Golden or pink – Stalin as an embattled memory site

In: Caucasus Survey
Elene Kekelianull

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Oliver Reisnernull

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Today, Stalin still haunts the Georgian public. Recent studies have focused solely on “collected” quantitative surveys, rather than “collective” memory on Stalin in Georgia. This paper approaches the Stalin puzzle differently by introducing specific social frameworks and by going beyond a generational analysis. This study illustrates a case of contested memory around Stalin monuments. Drawing on fieldwork (ethnography and interviews) conducted in the Kakheti region and the city of Gori, we analyse how the Stalin cult developed into a memory site. This transformation happened by applying a specific narrative template, which was adapted to different political environments, from the Stalin era until today. We conclude that two opposing interpretations of the narrative template for Stalin as a memory site rely on the same forms, while containing totally different content that we label as an affirmative “golden” variant and an unfavourable “pink” one.

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