The Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM), a railroad in East Siberia and the Russian Far East, became the last large Soviet industrial project. Its construction in the 1970s and 1980s attracted migrants from across the USSR, who formed the bamovtsy, or group of BAM builders. They share a history of working and living along the BAM and constitute the majority population in the region. The article argues that emotionally charged social memory of the BAM construction plays the central role in reproducing and reinforcing the bamovtsy identity in the post-Soviet period. Drawing on in-depth interviews and focus groups, the article examines the dynamics of both individual and collective remembering of the socialist BAM. It forms a vibrant discursive and emotional field, in which memories and identities are reconstructed, relived, and contested. Commemorative ceremonies such as the fortieth anniversary of the BAM serve as forums of public remembering and arenas for the politics of emotions.
Memories and Emotions of a Socialist Construction Project
The Case of a Polish Factory in the 1950s
This article focuses on gender relations and industrialization in the Stalinist and post-Stalinist period in Poland. Taking the example of a newly built metal factory in Kraśnik and its female workers, it shows the importance of local conditions for the process of the “productivization” of women. The article argues that in rural areas the access of women to the factory generated less conflict than in the urban milieu. The plant employed a great number of female workers in nearly every position—not as a result of any special “productivization” policy, but because women sought to work there. Women in Kraśnik did not see a conflict between their identities as women and wage work, including that in occupations traditionally dominated by men. In the course of de-Stalinization, the gender division of work became more important in shaping the employment policy of the factory. This article demonstrates how gender ideologies specific to peasant and workers' culture interacted in the process of industrialization.
Cultures of Governance and the Representation of Power in Tanzania
This article explores some cultural dimensions of governance in Tanzania in the context of transnational efforts to establish a vibrant civil society as part of the democratization agenda. Far from providing alternative modalities of political organization intermediate between the family and the state, the newly established community organizations formed in response to donor initiatives actually replicate social relations and practices associated with government. Governance as a cultural practice in Tanzania enacts the hierarchical relations between lower and higher tiers in models premised on the conceptualization of the village as both object and lowest level of government. Parallels between civil society models of governance and those associated with local governance are explained by identical vertical relations between donors and rural residents, and by shared expectations about the performance of power.
At a time when European cities redefine themselves through 'culture' in an attempt to attract tourists, investors and potential residents, policymakers have to negotiate different notions of 'local culture' defined by state governments on the one hand and by the EU on the other. Drawing upon research conducted in the Polish city of Gdańsk in the context of the redevelopment of its urban landscape, the article illustrates how 'local culture' is redefined as 'culture of freedom' by municipal and state institutions in order to establish a relationship of historical continuity between the time when Gdańsk was a thriving multicultural city and the post-socialist present. The article puts forward the argument that while the reformulation of local culture as 'culture of freedom' involves reconciling notions of national identity with new norms of local, regional and European integration, it does not necessarily entail the supersession of nationalism.
British-German relations have undergone a considerable transformation since 1945 with both countries having to adapt to significant changes in their own status, as well as a very different international environment. Germany's status as a morally and militarily defeated and occupied power in 1945 is in stark contrast to the confident role it is playing at the beginning of the new millennium when—sixty years after the end of World War II—the German chancellor for the first time took part in the VE-Day celebrations of the victors. This article analyzes recent dynamics of collective memory in both countries and examine if and to what extent their collective memories play a role in British-German relations.
This article describes why the Polish government has pushed for an invocation to Christian traditions in the European Union Constitution. It is argued that this is a rather 'unfortunate' outcome of the political alliance between the Catholic Church and the Polish left, especially between President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). This alliance allowed the SLD to legitimize their rule in the post-socialist Poland, and it was a result of a political competition between them and the post-Solidarność elites. As a result, John Paul II became the central integrative metaphor for the Polish society at large, which brought back in the marginalized as well as allowed the transition establishment to win the EU accession referendum in 2003. The article (which was written when Leszek Miller was still Prime Minister) demonstrates how this alliance crystallized and presents various elements of the cult of the Pope in Poland that followed. Finally, it argues that the worship of the Pope is not an example of nationalism, but of populism, understood not as a peripheral but as a central political force, and advocates for more research on the 'politics of emotions' at work in the centers and not in peripheries.
The Work of Hope in Urban Mongolia
Morten Axel Pedersen
Based on fieldwork among Ulaanbaatar's dispossessed youth, this article explores the 'work of hope' in post-socialist Mongolia. Using anthropological writings on presentism and hope as my theoretical point of departure, I show how the concept of hope allows for the potentials of the moment to overflow the possibilities of the present. The article describes a number of lucky-and not so lucky-events that took place during a day spent with a group of young men cruising around the city in an old Cadillac. Hope emerges as a social method for momentarily integrating heterogeneous assemblages otherwise dispersed across the post-socialist city-in this case, people's metaphysical capacities and their economic assets-into chains of creditors and debtors, which are only barely holding together within an overarching context of failure.
Explaining political quiescence of Ukrainian labor unions
In order to explore factors conditioning the political quietude of Ukrainian labor, this article analyzes ethnographic data collected at two large enterprises: the Kyiv Metro and the privatized electricity supplier Kyivenergo. Focusing on a recent labor conflict, I unpack various contexts condensed in it. I analyze the hegemonic configuration developed in the early 1990s, at the workplace and at the macro level, and follow its later erosion. Th is configuration has been based on labor hoarding, distribution of nonwage resources, and patronage networks, featuring the foreman as the nodal figure. On the macro scale, it relied on the mediation by unions, supported by resources accumulated during the Soviet era and the economic boom of the 2000s. The depletion of these resources has spelled the ongoing crisis of this configuration.
Visual and Verbal Strategies of Representing the Past in Post-Waldheim Austria
This article focuses on the impact of images on reconstructions of the past. In order to analyze the function of images in history textbooks, image-discourse analysis is applied to a case study of Austrian postwar memory. The analysis of recent Austrian history textbooks provides insight into strategies by which notions of Austria as both "victim" and "perpetrator" of the National Socialist regime are held in balance. The article also focuses on the intentional framing of iconic depictions of two central Austrian sites of memory, Heroes' Square (Heldenplatz) and the State Treaty (Staatsvertrag).
A 1945 Primer from Socialist Macedonia
This article examines the textual and visual content of the first postwar primer in socialist Yugoslav Macedonia in order to understand the messages that it contains relating to techniques of militarization. After outlining the historical context in which this primer was developed, with reference to teachers’ memories and archival sources, the article analyzes the role of teaching materials in connection with the experience of the Second World War and the politics of the new communist state. This content analysis identifies six militaristic messages and values communicated to the pupils, who are addressed as future soldiers.