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From Repentance to Resurrection: the Saints' Bones as Historical Traces
(National Research University Higher School of Economics)
Paper short abstract:
The paper analyses "public life" of the bones of the royal martyrs tsar Nikolay of Russia and his family unearthed in Ekaterinburg in 1991 and 2007 and focuses on different conceptions of temporalities articulated in the process of the search, examination and memorialization of the Romanovs.
Paper long abstract:
The paper is based on a fieldwork with a group of people who found the remains of the "royal martyrs" tsar Nikolas Romanov and his family near Ekaterinburg (Russia) in 1991 and 2007 and are still searching for the bones of the brother of the tsar in Perm'. The Romanovs were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate in 2000 as saint passion-bearers. Authenticity of the unearthed remains was proved with multiple scientific methods in respectable labs in Russia and abroad but has not been recognized by the Church so far. This situation of uncertainty is perceived by the people who found the remains and were involved in their examination and then building the semi-official places of memory as violation of essential moral principles which makes further developments of the whole nation impossible. The paper focuses on variabilities of the discourses of "repentance" (Rus.: pokayanie) and "resurrection" (Rus.: voskreshenie) central for memorialisation of the regicide, from museum exhibitions and conferences to holy icons and commemoration ceremonies which are performed every year on the day of massacre at official as well as dissident memorial sites in Ekaterinburg and other places. I argue that in historical imagination of the opponents in these ongoing debates and in the cultural forms this imagination takes the logics of historicism (linear history) and of topological history (Ch. Stewart) coexist and intertwine.
Knowing Historical Traces, Eliciting Possible Futures