Chapaev as a Media Object: from the Civil War to the Black Lives Matter Movement

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historical memory
Civil War

How to Cite

Anikin, D. (2021). Chapaev as a Media Object: from the Civil War to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 3(1), 190-209.


The article explores the dynamics of the image of V.I. Chapaev in the Soviet and post-Soviet media space. Using the theory of post-memory by M. Hirsch and S. O’Donoghue as methodology of research, the author analyzes the transformation of the main characteristics of the image, its place in Russian historical memory and in the cultural tradition. V.I. Chapaev became one of the most significant characters in the Soviet cultural tradition. After the fall of the Soviet Union the image of Chapaev however retained its significance in the context of rethinking the Soviet heritage. The article highlights the following stages of transformation of V.I. Chapaev’s image: the inclusion in the "founding myth" and gradual transformation into a Soviet epic hero (crowding out collective trauma); debunking the heroic status within the framework of the "carnival culture" and turning into a character of anecdotes (de-traumatization in the process of post-memory formation); transformation into a hero of Internet memes (transformation of post-memory and de-actualization of the themes of the Civil War). The author argues that the burst of memes depicting Chapaev in 2020 demonstrates a post-ironic attitude to the Black Lives Matter movement in Russian society. The author concludes that the fact that Chapaev’s image was included in a fundamentally different political and cultural context demonstrates that the symbolic potential of the Civil War memory in Russia is entirely exhausted and can no longer serve as a tool for the formation of commemorative practices.


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