Seminar with Siobhan Kattago at Uppsala

Siobhan Kattago from the University of Tartu will give a presentation at Uppsala on the multiple meanings of Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow.

As the literal embodiment of state sovereignty, Lenin’s Mausoleum demonstrates the uneven patterns of dealing with the Soviet past in contemporary Russia. Moreover, his continued presence near the Kremlin obfuscates official acknowledgement of his authoritarian terror during the Soviet regime. The gravesite is more than a Soviet curiosity piece for the occasional tourist; it signifies the difficulty of coming to terms with the past in post-Soviet Russia. This paper argues that Lenin’s Mausoleum exemplifies three interconnected patterns of post-Soviet memory: 1) warped mourning for the victims of communism; 2) the grave as a sacred and haunted place of memory; 3) political theology of the Soviet and post-Soviet state. Although it was possible to bury Stalin’s embalmed remains in 1961, burying Lenin proves to be more difficult because his removal from Red Square entails a re-thinking of the October revolution of 1917, Leninism, the role of the communist party and the creation of the Soviet Union.

Siobhan Kattago is Senior Research Fellow of Practical Philosophy at the University of Tartu in Estonia. She received her PhD from the New School for Social Research in New York and is a contributor to its blog, Public Seminar. Her academic interests include collective memory, philosophy of history, political philosophy and twentieth-century European history. She is editor of The Ashgate Research Companion to Memory Studies (Routledge 2015) and author of Memory and Representation in Contemporary Europe: The Persistence of the Past (Routledge 2012) and Ambiguous Memory: the Nazi Past and German National Identity (Praeger 2001).