1st Edition

The Legacies of Soviet Repression and Displacement The Multiple and Mobile Lives of Memories

Edited By Samira Saramo, Ulla Savolainen Copyright 2023
    260 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the ways in which memories of Stalin-era repression and displacement manifest across times and places through diverse forms of materialization. The chapters of the book explore the concrete mobilities of life stories, letters, memoirs, literature, objects, and bodies reflecting Soviet repression and violence across borders of geographical locations, historical periods, and affective landscapes. These spatial, temporal, and psychological shifts are explored further as processes of textual circulation and mediation.

    By offering novel multi-sited and multi-media analyses of the creative, political, societal, cultural, and intimate implications of remembrance, the collection contributes fresh interdisciplinary perspectives to both the field of memory studies and the study of Soviet repression. The case studies in this collection focus on the personal, autobiographical, and intimate representations, experiences, and practices related to the remembrance of Stalinist repression and displacement as they are mediated through memoirs, fiction, interviews, and versatile commemorative practices. Taken together, the book asks: what happens to memories, life stories, testimonies, and experiences when they travel in time and space and between media and are (re)interpreted and (re)formulated through these transfers? What kinds of memorial forms are gained through processes of mediation? What types of spaces for remembering, telling, and feeling are created, negotiated, and contested through these shifts? What are the boundaries and intersections of intimate, familial, community, national, and transnational memories?

    By analytically contextualizing the various case studies within broader memory discourses in a range of geographical and political contexts, the book offers rich and multilayered interpretations of the enduring ramifications of communist repression. The collection demonstrates that these multiply moving memories not only reflect Eastern European memory culture but also reach far beyond and have transnational and transgenerational significance. As such, this timely book will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the former Soviet Union or memory studies more broadly.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons [Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)] 4.0 license.

    Introduction: Moving Memories of Stalin-Era Repression and Displacement

    Samira Saramo and Ulla Savolainen

    Part I: Mobile Becomings

    1. Gender, Loyalty, and the Epistolary Manifestation of Feeling, 1936–1940

    Hannah Parker

    2. Siberian Letters and Memory of Transatlantic Correspondence between Lithuanians in the West and the Soviet Union

    Gintarė Venzlauskaitė

    3. Mnemonic Affordances of Family Photographs: Assembling Memorability of Displacement and Soviet Repression

    Ulla Savolainen

    Part II: Commemorative Materializations

    4. The Zone: Remembering the Political Repression Camp "Perm-36"

    Anastasia V. Mitrofanova and Svetlana V. Riazanova

    5. On the Role of the Individual in Materializing, Mediating, and Commemorating Memories of the Stalinist Repressions

    Ene Kõresaar and Terje Anepaio

    6. "It Didn’t Happen Here, or Happen Now, But It Happened to Us": Stories of Bread and Hunger in L’viv, Ukraine

    Elena Liber

    Part III: Attuning Belonging and Family Memory

    7. Suffering, Death, and Homeland in the Memoirs of Lithuanian Deportees

    Nerija Putinaitė

    8. Mediating (Post)memory in Multilingual and Multicultural Writing: The Autobiographical Texts of Katharina Martin-Virolainen and Anna Soudakova

    Marja Sorvari

    9. Remembering the Ingrian Finns and Soviet Terror in the Novels by Anita and Juhani Konkka

    Anna Helle

    Part IV: Implications of Suffering

    10. Complicity in Commemoration: The "Traumatic Enfilade" in the Work of Maria Stepanova

    Juliane Prade-Weiss

    11. Remembering Soviet Terror in the Aftermath of the Donbas War: Mondegreen by Volodymyr Rafeyenko

    Iryna Tarku

    12. Afterlives of Gulag Narratives: Fictional (Re)Mediations of Displacement, Neglected Memories, and Repetitive Anxiety

    Simona Mitroiu and Roxana Patraș


    Samira Saramo is Kone Foundation Senior Researcher at the Migration Institute of Finland. Saramo is a transdisciplinary historian researching Finnish mobilities through the lenses of life writing, emotions, community, place, and the everyday. She is the author of Building That Bright Future: Soviet Karelia in the Life Writing of Finnish North Americans (2022). Saramo’s research has been published in Journal of Social History, Qualitative Research, European Journal of Life Writing, Comparative American Studies, European Journal of American Studies and elsewhere. She is the Chair and Founder of the History of Finnish Migrations Network and Vice Chair of the Finnish Oral History Network.

    Ulla Savolainen is University Researcher at the University of Helsinki, Department of Cultures. She is a folklorist specializing in memory studies, oral history, and narrative research. Her research interests include poetics and politics of remembrance, transnationality, and materiality. She is the leader of the research projects "Transnational Memory Cultures of Ingrian Finns" (2020–2022) and "Toward an ecology of memory. Mediums, modalities, and agents of the construction of Ingrian Finnish pasts" (2022–2025). Savolainen’s doctoral dissertation (2015) focused on the life writings of former Karelian child evacuees in Finland. She has also researched oral histories of internments of German and Hungarian citizens in Finland in 1944–1946 and analyzed reception of compensation for past injustice.

    "This rich, timely collection brings together key specialists who scrutinize varied strategies and approaches to understanding meaning-making in post- or still-repressive societies where remembrance of past repression and forced migration was long proscribed. Examining photos, memoirs, life stories, exhibitions, family memories, fiction, and commemorative practices, the contributors offer reflection on the reparative potential of excavating repressed histories and repressed memories."

    Nanci Adler, Professor of Memory, History, and Transitional Justice, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

    "Saramo and Savolainen’s volume is a timely contribution to scholarship on the memory of Soviet repression, colonialism and forced mobility, and to research on memory politics, circulation and practices of state crimes at large. The book engages theories of memory, mobilizing the affective landscape of concrete cultural objects, such as letters, photographs, memoirs, literary works, museums, etc. Finally, the volume moves towards a connective, rather than comparative, method that opens the field to a rich tapestry of shared experiences and analytical nuances."

    Marta-Laura Cenedese, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Turku, Finland/Centre Marc Bloch, Germany

    "While the field of memory studies has focused considerably on the Holocaust, the memories of Stalinist repression and the Gulag remain under-researched. This timely and much-needed book is an important contribution to filling this knowledge gap. By analyzing letters, material objects and stories, the essays acknowledge the histories of the victims and demonstrate at the same time the transnational and transgenerational character of Soviet memory."

    Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, Professor of Eastern and Central European Studies, Lund University, Sweden