Surplus Value of Memory: Russian ‘Cult of Dead Body' and Eastern Partnership

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 356 (University of Glasgow)
Victor Apryshchenko , Institute of History and International Relations, Southern Federal University
The paper deals with Russian collective memory of the USSR as a reaction on Eastern Partnership. Memory is considered as cultural commodity which is characterised by two qualities. Firstly, as Maurizio Lazzarato pointed out, this kind of cultural product is not destroyed during the process of consumption, but it enlarges, transforms, and creates the ‘ideological’ and cultural environment of the consumer. Thus, surplus value of the collective memory is appearing not during the act of production, but rather under the process of consumption. Political mobilisation and transformation of social relations is only one of collective memory surplus value. Even if this kind of commodity does not produce the physical capacity of labour power, it transforms the person who uses it.

The victory of the Soviet Union in the Second World War to be considered as a cornerstone of Russia’s national identity shaping, since last decade and has been actively exploited to mobilise support for the current political regime in Russia. The heritage of the victory has been used to present Russia as a great power and justify its claims for a special status in Europe. Politics of history in contemporary Russia is the main tool to subsume civil society and transform social relations moving them to traditional way of development and opposing to European integration.