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A grandfather, several uncles, and distant relatives were also killed. In the midst of this mayhem, the future author found solace in books. When the local priest went off to join the Cristero rebels, he left his library—full of books the Catholic Index had forbidden—with the Rulfo family, paradoxically providing a vocation for a boy who would grow up to write about characters who felt abandoned by God, whose faith had been betrayed.

Rulfo must have understood, somehow, during those years of dread, that reading—and perhaps, someday, writing—could be a form of salvation. In these gems of fiction that English-language readers can enjoy in a recent, vivid translation by Ilan Stavans with Harold Augenbraum, Rulfo immortalized the derelict campesinos whom the Mexican revolution had promised to liberate but whose lives remained dismally unchanged.

The men and women he described have been wedged into my memory for decades. Who could forget that group of peasants trekking through the desert to a useless plot of land the government had granted them? Or that bragging, drunken, fornicating functionary whose visit bankrupts an already starving pueblo?

Or the idiot Macario, who kills frogs in order to eat them? Or the father who carries his dying son on his back, all the while reproaching him for the crimes by which the son has dishonored his lineage? Crimes haunt most of these characters. A bandolero is tracked down for hour after hour along a dry riverbed by unknown pursuers. A prisoner pleads for his life, unaware that the colonel who commands the firing squad is the son of a man whom the prisoner killed forty years earlier.

An old curandero or healer is corralled by a coven of women in black, bent on forcing him to confess to his many sexual transgressions against them. But, as always in Rulfo, the greatest crime of all is the destruction of hope, the orphaning of communities like the forsaken town of Luvina:. People in Luvina say dreams rise out of those ravines; but the only thing I ever saw rise up from there was the wind, whirling, as if it had been imprisoned down below in reed pipes.

But the chicalote soon withers. Then one hears it scratching the air with its thorny branches, making a noise like a knife on a whetstone. Migrants who leave their own infernal Comala behind still carry inside its memories and dreams, its whispers and rancors, as they cross borders and settle into new streets. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview "An old-fashioned tale of tall talk, high ideals,and irresistible appeal. You will not read a historical thriller like this all year. This is masterly work. A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony for life.

Thomas F. Meagher strides onto Egan's beautifully wrought pages just as he lived—powerfully larger than life. A fascinating account of an extraordinary life. A gripping, novelistic page-turner. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Hometown: Seattle, Washington. Date of Birth: November 8, Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. American Heroes: On the Homefront. For more than a dozen years, combat-decorated Marine Oliver North and View Product. American Sideshow. Much of the media discussion around the Immortal Regiment has hinged on the question of the relationship between the state and the grassroots elements of this ritual and of Victory Day commemorations more broadly. A closer look at the history of the Immortal Regiment movement reveals a story of competing and disputed genealogies.

The original Immortal Regiment movement was the initiative of a small group of journalists, historians by education, who were friends and colleagues working for the Tomsk TV station TV-2 the station that was closed down in February Nordvik The group came up with the idea of using photographs of deceased war veterans and marching with them, partly as a means of reinserting veterans into the commemoration in a context when so few living veterans remained; and also with the aim of strengthening the institution of the family by fostering a renewed interest in family history.

When they ran a trial version of this event in Tomsk in , it proved very popular, and they subsequently began to be put under pressure by state officials seeking to impose their own preferred leaders on the movement Parkhomenko Subsequently there ensued a battle for control and leadership of this movement, while simultaneously it grew in popularity and spread across different regions of the country see further Gabowitsch Indeed, it seems this is why the Smolensk region was chosen, because of its status as the place where the search movement first arose in the s according to Lapenkov, cited Galeeva However, no response seems to have been forthcoming, and instead the clone movement was evidently given full backing by the state.

There were also some signs of a campaign in the media apparently aimed at discrediting the founders of the original Immortal Regiment movement see for example Golubeva a. Despite all the advantages that BPR would seem to enjoy, however, in fact the jury is still out on which movement will prevail. Meanwhile, the heads of the BPR and their supporters continue to claim that this is a genuine independent grassroots movement see for example Golubeva c.

It is precisely by virtue of this claim to be a spontaneous and autonomous movement that the movement retains its value as a source of legitimacy for the state. Today, de facto, the Regiment unavoidably exists in two versions: narodnoi and quasi-official [ polukazennoi ]. That means that we need to learn to cooperate with all sensible people, and not only to be on the back foot.

Can one cooperate with someone who became a coordinator by appointment? If so, then how should this be done? The regiment began as an initiative by individuals, but today this is already narodnaia stikhiia whose life is governed by its own laws. It is still an open question what kind of organization will ultimately emerge here.

I turn now to examine this genealogy with the aim of identifying and exploring the ideological meanings that are being spun around it.

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In this connection it is perhaps not insignificant that the movement first began in the provinces, that is, in the heart of the real, the pure Russia, rather than in corrupt and Westernized Moscow. This right could be exercised, he suggested, by the participants of the Immortal Regiment parade, who could vote on behalf of their ancestors. Akopov Here, then, the Immortal Regiment effectively legitimizes the Crimean annexation. Marakhovskii As these examples show, this metaphor is inherently connected to the notion of a reawakening of the memory of the war. The BPR also prides itself on being an international movement.


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This performance of memory is thus also directed outwards, to an external audience. This was planned as the climax of the ceremony, in fact. An envelope containing a photograph of a Soviet citizen who died in the war was to be placed on every seat in the stadium, and at the culmination of the ceremony, the crowd was to fall silent, and every member of the audience was to hold up their photograph above their head. This is one of the reasons why the Immortal Regiment procession was not shown in the West. Golubeva b.

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Often this is combined with claims that a wholescale whitewashing and rehabilitation of the history of fascism is also underway in Western countries, and that the West is also covertly sponsoring the same process throughout post-Soviet space see for example Bordovaia This testifies to the fact that we have support, that our compatriots are united with us, this is a unified Russian space… Let the whole world know: Russians big and small have gathered and will gather together to defend their Victory.

One reason why this myth is so powerful is that it contains a grain of truth. Perhaps more importantly, it is the case that popular levels of consciousness of the Soviet role in the war are generally low throughout the Western world. For the most part, however, lack of popular knowledge in the West when it comes to the Soviet role in World War II is overwhelmingly a matter of simple ignorance of basic historical facts at the broader level, and claims that this ignorance is the result of a deliberate policy of suppressing or denying historical facts are deeply misleading.

Nevertheless, the myth of Western denial of the Soviet Victory has now become so entrenched in Russian public life that it qualifies as an example of what Stuart J. As such, it has strong mobilizational power, precisely because of the strength of the family memory of the immense wartime sufferings in Russia and elsewhere in post-Soviet space. Memory functions here as a site of existential threat; and as a sacred and pure object demanding protection at all costs, up to and including the use of armed force.

The sheer numbers of people taking part in the Immortal Regiment processions make this event ideal material for supporting claims about the popularity of the Putin regime. Contrasts are frequently drawn to the size of oppositional rallies, with a view to demonstrating that the Immortal Regiment constitutes the face of the real Russian civil society, sometimes said to be only now awakening in Russia. And this is right. Samoilov The issue of authenticity is key here, with the Immortal Regiment contrasted to the notion of color revolutions as manufactured and sponsored by foreigners.

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This context is reflected in the curious incident in May when United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in Moscow for the Victory Day celebrations and witnessing the Immortal Regiment parade, reportedly initially assumed that the parade was an oppositional rally. Whether or not he really said this, it is certainly the case that the pro-Kremlin camp has sought to present this event as the irrefutable evidence of its overwhelming popularity and to insist that this is effectively a rally of people displaying and performing their loyalty to the Putin regime.

Aleksandr Samoilov wrote in a similar vein that,. This rhetoric gains credence partly through the history of Soviet propaganda on Western governments as the heirs to Nazism on which see Hirszowicz , from which the key images and tropes are borrowed, adapted, and also applied to critics of the Putin regime more broadly, stigmatizing them as descendants of Nazi collaborators. The Immortal Regiment has been hailed as representing a fusion of family memory and state memory, of the narod and the state. Yet as we have seen, it is precisely this aspect of the Immortal Regiment—its engagement with family experiences of the war—that is viewed as threatening by some patriotic commentators.

The state authorities have engaged with these photographs directly through this movement; in Moscow, for example, it is possible to take your family photograph to various municipal offices and to have it blown up, fit to a standard format, and laminated, free of charge. The silent form of witnessing to the past enacted by these photographs enables a kind of ventriloquizing—the eyes seem to speak eloquently, the words and meaning can be supplied by the state at will. This imagery can be linked back to various strands of the Russian nationalist tradition such as pochvennichestvo or the Village Prose movement.

The pro-Kremlin language of war memory today is one that is also saturated with blood and soil, and with biological metaphors. In the remainder of the chapter I examine some of these key tropes. This is a new incarnation of Victory, and a new incarnation of Russia, an awakening of new life.

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This preoccupation is also a characteristic of Russian official discourse more broadly. Nosikov Simply to annihilate us [ Prosto chtoby nas ne bylo. Because this is a war, everyone understands this very well… [T]he Immortal Regiment is our reaction to this war [being waged by the West] against Russia… [T]he Immortal Regiment… is a great ascension of the narod with the aim of defending its country.

A new narod is taking shape in our country.


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This chapter has outlined the contours of the official and patriotic discourse surrounding the war memory in Russia as it has been taking shape since the beginning of the war in Ukraine and expressed through the pro-Kremlin commentary on the Immortal Regiment movement. As this quote from Sergei Markov illustrates, the Immortal Regiment movement is being claimed first and foremost as marking the emergence of something new: a new stage in the development of the Russian nation—the genesis of a new form of that nation, even. While the Immortal Regiment ritual is focused on remembering a past war, for the pro-Kremlin camp, its significance has everything to do with present and future wars.

The nature of these wars is often left undefined, but it is clear that they may be both international and internal in scope, and that domestic enemies are among those who will have to be defeated in these conflicts. As we have seen, this latest incarnation of Russian war memory is a high-octane discourse, built on hostile myths that depict Russian memory and identity as radically under threat, and that potentially justify and fuel inter-ethnic violence. Within this discourse, memory of the war takes on a life of its own—if taken to its logical conclusion, then citizens are transformed into mere vehicles of an immutable genetic memory which has value in its own right and which must be reproduced at all costs.

Historian Ivan Kurilla is one of those who take a more optimistic view of the Immortal Regiment phenomenon see Reut The fact that the parade was granted permission to march across Red Square was significant here. It should be noted that as Mischa Gabowitsch has pointed out, the grassroots movement has also cooperated in various ways with local state authorities and other powerful institutions such as Gazprom from the outset, and so the state—society divide should not be overstated; but the organizers have attempted to set limits on such cooperation.

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This is according to Lapenkov, cited Galeeva On the poiskoviki , see Chapter The classic texts here are Sontag and Barthes See parad-msk. On this distinction see further the Introduction to this volume. See also Chap. On biological national discourses in contemporary Russia, see also Hemment : — You do not have permission under this license to share adapted material derived from this chapter or parts of it.

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Advertisement Hide. Open Access. First Online: 06 December Download chapter PDF. Consider for example the following statement by Nikolai Zemtsov, in an interview about the Immortal Regiment, in which he said that even though official state borders had changed since , the space of the spirit has been preserved.