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Students and Trainee Researchers of the CHR Took Part at the Conference "Constructing the Soviet"

Trainee researchers of the Center for Historical Research, students of the Bachelor's Program “History” of the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg Valentina Smirnova, Ksenia Litvinenko, Alexander Korobeynikov Alexander Kuczynski and Maria Zimina participated in the international interdisciplinary conference "Constructing the Soviet" which was held at the European University at St. Petersburg on the April 16-18th.

Ksenia Litvinenko’s research paper “Constructing Identity: Soviet Architects in Vyborg 1941-1957” was dedicated to the architectural and urban planning policy of the Soviet state on the territory of Vyborg during the period of 1941-1957. In particular, she looked at the development of policies of historical memory during the post-war period, the symbolic development of urban space. The purpose of the research was to describe the dialectics of construction of the historical heritage of Vyborg in the context of Soviet nationality policy.

Social and urban planning situation of Vyborg is typical for many border towns. Existence of a boundary marks the limit of the presence of a particular state and, on the other hand, provokes active processes of international cooperation. Of course, all these agents are imprinted on the fabric of the town creating various identities.

The speaker noted that the key feature of the policy of the Soviet state on the territory of Vyborg in 1941-1957 gg. is designing and creating an alternative narrative about the past, the purpose of which was the symbolicconversion of Vyborg to the Soviet city. There were several ways of symbolic development of space Vyborg by working with historical and architectural heritage: the destruction of the monument, its replacement with an abrupt change in the expressive forms, changing function of public spaces that are important for Finnish culture, the symbolic appropriation of the monument. Despite the general tendency to support the development of national architectural styles on the territory of the autonomous and national republics of the USSR and the actual lack of non-Russian population in the city, the local government of Vyborg abandons the policy of encouraging the creation of local identity in architecture and focuses on the fight with the Finnish historical heritage, by all means designing the “Soviet”.

Valentina Smirnova’s report was dedicated to the national gender policy in the USSR in the late 1920th. At that time Bolsheviks were interested in in the emancipation and liberation of women in general. At the same time they gave special attention to «Eastern» region. An interest to the “Orient” women as a specific social group was due to the fact that Bolsheviks considered them as potentially revolutionary asset, «surrogate proletariate», because they were poor, exploited and limited in rights, as well as representatives of the real proletariat (Gregory Massel, 1974). On the other hand, according to Douglas Northrop, Bolsheviks used such factors as gender, appearance (specific clothing) and the position of women in society as "national markers", through which were constructed not only the female oriental image, but also the image of the entire East in overall (Douglas Northrop, 2001). The main source for this research is a series of brochures “The Female Toiler of the Orient”, which was published in 1927-1928. It is important that these brochures were about Oriental women, but not for them. The main function of them was to inform and create an image of "orient" woman. In this work were identified the main factors, which determined the image of the “Orient woman". Firstly, it was traditions and customs, which were existed in non-Western societies. It was believed that religion played a big role in strengthening of it. The economic factor was also significant, because it plays important role in the emancipation, a large component of which was economic independence of women. In addition, it was possible to distinguish the model of emancipation of "Oriental" women, which was offered by Bolsheviks. It implied participation of women in social and political life with the help of women's departments, which was involved in propaganda and education. Another significant element of it was involvement in the labor activity. Using in this research a concept of Intersectionality makes possible to identify the main identity, which were produced at the intersection of political and cultural, which include national and religious identity, the identity of the wives and female toiler, which, as a result, create the identity of "Oriental" women.

Alexander Korobeinikov, Alexander Kuchynskiy and Maria Zimina presented the report "Dynamics of Change of the Visual Image of Population of Central Asia in the Context of Transition from the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union, 1871-1940." The main aim of the research was the analysis of the dynamics and mechanisms of transformation of identities through the use of visual discourse with the help of applying photographic heritage of Central Asia.

The report discussed different spatial, contextual and temporal cases. The reporting period covers an impressive temporal period, that is why the presenters divided the report into three conceptual parts (the Imperial period, the period of autonomies and the Soviet period) in photo representation of the Central Asian region. Based on the example of ethnographic expeditions photos, snapshots from the collection of the Kunstkamera created in the Central Asian ethnological expedition of the USSR's Academy of Sciences in 1931 and the album "20 years of Kazakhstan", released in 1940, was conducted discourse analysis of visual sources.