Memory Politics of the North 1993–2023

An interplay perspective (NORMEMO)

The research project 'Memory politics of the North, 1993-2023. An interplay perspective' (NORMEMO) is situated at the Department of Archaeology, History, Religious Studies and Theology and initiated by the research group  The Presence of the Past: Peoples, Politics and the Uses of History in the High North. The project examines memory politics and memory culture in Northwest Russia and in Russia's relations with Norway throughout 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 other 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 federal level memory policies are appropriated on the regional level, and to what extent regional stakeholders and existing commemorative practices impact on federal priorities. The project breaks new ground by examining the dynamics of memory politics as a regional and transborder phenomena, adding to the existing literature focusing primarily on national contexts.

Our project team, headed by professor Kari Aga Myklebost and consisting of established scholars in history, political science, and social anthropology, examines how the past is constructed and contested on a number of regional scenes, including museums, school curricula, monuments, films, web pages, 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 its 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.