The project 'Memory politics of the North, 1993-2023. An interplay perspective' (NORMEMO) examines memory politics and memory culture in Northwest Russia and in Russia's relations with Norway in the post-Soviet period. The contemporary Norwegian-Russian borderland is an intriguing and understudied case compared to other parts of Russia’s western borderlands; here, diplomacy and dialogue have been dominant features when dealing with issues of the past. This differs sharply from the 'memory wars' waged between Russia and East European neighbor states.
Our focus is on the interplay between actors on the federal and regional level in Russia, as well as in Russia’s bilateral relations with Norway. The project explores how the memory policy of the Kremlin is appropriated on the regional level, and to what extent regional stakeholders and existing commemorative practices impact on federal level memory policy. The project breaks new ground by examining the dynamics of memory politics as regional and transborder phenomena, adding to existing literature focusing primarily on national contexts.
Our project team, consisting of established Norwegian and Russian scholars in history, political science, sociology, and social anthropology, examines how the past is constructed and contested on a number of regional scenes, including museums, school curricula, monuments, films, and social media networks. Scrutinizing the processes of negotiations, struggles and adaptations between (trans-)regional and federal mnemonic actors, we explore the discussions that evolve around representing the past at regional level, what self-conceptions and normative attitudes they reveal, and what material and symbolic resources act and compete in these processes. To get a deeper understanding of this interplay, the project traces it's unfolding in shifting political contexts over the past three decades, from the establishment of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region in 1993 and up until the present.
The NORMEMO project breaks new ground and advances the research field on Russian memory politics by moving beyond the focus on the Kremlin in existing research, and examining memory politics as processes of interplay between mnemonic actors on 1) the regional level in Northwest Russia, and 2) the trans-regional level in relations with Norway. A regional approach to memory politics seems overdue in consideration of Russia’s size and regional diversity. In parallel, recent discussions in memory studies call for a third wave that move beyond “the classical frame of memory, the nation-state” and scrutinize “non- and transnational frames”. Memory politics in relations between Norway and Russia stand out as an exceptional and understudied case in comparison with Russia’s relations with other European states. Thus, we conceptualise memory politics as a two-level interplay, involving actors both on the Russian domestic scene and in bilateral relations with Norway. Despite the dominance of the Kremlin in the field of memory politics in Russia, we argue that there is a regional filter through which federal politics are appropriated by regional institutions and actors. In Northwest Russia, this filter is produced by distinct regional realities, including relations with Norway and the manifold networks that have developed across the border in the post-Soviet period. We scrutinize the processes of negotiations, struggles and adaptations between (trans-) regional and federal mnemonic actors, and the agendas and strategies, self-conceptions and normative attitudes of our select mnemonic actors, as well as their material and symbolic resources – and how they act and compete in representing the past. To get a better grasp of the interplay in different political environments and periods in contemporary history, the project explores these issues as they develop over three decades, from the establishment of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region in 1993 and up until the present.
UTENRIKS-Internasjonale forhold - utenriks- og sikkerhetspolitikk og norske interesser