1st Edition

Heritage Statecraft and Corporate Power Altai Activism in Post-Soviet Siberia

By Gertjan Plets Copyright 2024
    228 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Heritage Statecraft and Corporate Power examines the politicization of heritage and heritage conflicts in Siberia. In so doing, it challenges the idea that heritage is created by the state and instead argues that heritage creates the state.

    Building upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in south-central Eurasia, this book provides an analysis of the sociopolitical enmeshment of archaeology and heritage in Russia’s resource colony: Siberia. Although many examples from across Siberia are discussed, the core study region for the book is the Altai Republic, which is located where Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and China intersect. Taking a “heritage statecraft” approach, Plets argues that heritage is a particularly important political instrument in this region. The book considers how different social “groups”—including indigenous communities, Russian settlers, displaced groups, national and international archaeologists, political parties, and energy companies—translate archaeological data into culturally distinct heritages. Plets encourages scrutiny of the different players that mobilize heritage to instill norms and ideas and the ways in which new regulations or institutions are ultimately implemented.

    Heritage Statecraft and Corporate Power contributes to key debates around the politics of archaeology, resource development, and cultural heritage. It will be essential reading for academics and students engaged in the study of heritage, archaeology, and memory.

    Introduction; Part I: Theorizing heritage statecraft and setting the stage; Chapter 1: Heritage Statecraft; Chapter 2: Statecraft in Soviet and post-Soviet Altai: Regionalism and social engineering; Part II: She’s Gone; Chapter 3: The sourdough rises and the discovery of the Altai Princess; Chapter 4: Monumental history in the time of Putin; Part III: She’s back … with a vengeance?; Chapter 5: Repatriation: A doxa breaker?; Chapter 6: Negotiating state systems: Repatriating to acquire a social license to operate; Chapter 7: Instilling state ideas: Promising pipelines and changing environmental discourses; Chapter 8: Exceptions to authoritarianism: Post-repatriation political climates; Conclusion


    Gertjan Plets is an Associate Professor in Heritage Studies and Cultural History at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. In his work, he uses heritage as a lens to explore cultural politics and statecraft. He especially studies how museums and cultural property are mobilized in regions politically shaped by the energy sector (gas, oil, and mining) and how the past is used to normalize energy discourses and futures. In his work, he draws on his extensive ethnographic research in the Altai Republic (Russia) and Groningen (the Netherlands).