Welcome to the website of the Helsinki-team of the international research project Memory at War!

From January 14 to February 1, 2012 Tatiana made a field trip to Velikii Novgorod, where she visited WWII museums and memorial sites and made interviews with local journalists, historians and public activists.

The Helsinki-team of the MAW project will present its preliminary research results at the 2013 BASEES conference at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, on 5-8 April 2013:

PANEL: Representations and Utilisation of the “Great Patriotic War” in Regional, National and Transnational Contexts in Putin’s Russia

Chair: Dr Julie Fedor (University of Cambridge)

  • Dr.  Tetyana Zhurzhenko (Aleksanteri Institute  – Finnish  Institute for Russian and Eastern  European Studies) : Memories of World War II in Russian Regional Media (Belgorod, Novgorod, Murmansk)
  • “Dr. Jussi Lassila  (Aleksanteri Institute – Finnish Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies): Negotiating Facts of the Official Memory: Stalin and the “Great Patriotic War” in the  Putin-Era Central Media
  • “Prof. Markku Kangaspuro  (Aleksanteri Institute – Finnish Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies ): “The Great Patriotic War” in Transnational Frame
  • DISCUSSANT: Dr.  Galina Nikiporets-Takigawa


From September 20 to October 6, 2012 Tatiana made a field trip to Murmansk, where she visited WWII museums and memorial sites and made interviews with local journalists, historians and public activists.

The Helsinki-team of the MAW project organizes the research symposium Narratives of Suffering in Post-Cold War Europe: The Second World War in Transnational Contexts, 3-4 September 2012 at the Aleksanteri Institute

Monday 3 September

9:30 – 10:00 Symposium Opening Markku Kangaspuro (Aleksanteri Institute, University ofHelsinki)

 Session I, Chair: Jussi Lassila

10:00 – 10:45 Tatiana Voronina (European University at St. Petersburg) Making of the Soviet History: Siege of Leningrad as Socialist Realism Project

10:45 – 11:30 Philipp Chapkovski (European University at St. Petersburg) The mystery triangle: the source of popularity of apologetic pro-stalinist literature in Russia

11:30 – 12:15 Gelinada Grinchenko (V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine) (Re)constructing the Suffering: the Ostarbeiter of the Third Reich in Soviet and Post-Soviet Ukrainian Historical Memory

12:15 – 13:30 Lunch

Session II, Chair: Julie Fedor

13:30 – 14:15 Aleksandr Antoshchenko (Petrozavodsk State University) War Memorials in Karelia: Place of Sorrow or Glory?

14:15 – 15:00 Zuzanna Bogumil (Academy of Special Education In Warsaw, Poland) Neither hero nor victim but a martyr – a religious dimension of the WWII memory

15:00-15:15 Coffee break

Session III, Chair: Brendan Humphreys

15:15 – 16:00 Olga Malinova (Russian Academy of Sciences) Political uses of the narrative(s) of the Great Patriotic War in post-Soviet Russia: from the 1990s to the 2010s

Tuesday 4 September

Session IV, Chair: Markku Kangaspuro

10:00 – 10:45 Julie Fedor (University of Cambridge) Katyn and Russian Discourses of Victimhood

10:45 – 11:30 Markku Kangaspuro & Jussi Lassila (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki) Narratives of Suffering in the Putin-era Public Discussion on Stalin and the Great Patriotic War

11:30 – 12:15 Tatiana Zhurzhenko (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki) Heroes into victims: Uses of suffering in Soviet and post-Soviet Ukraine and Russia

12:15 – 13:30 Lunch

Session V, Chair: Tatiana Zhurzhenko

14:00 – 14:45 Brendan Humphreys (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki) Sponsoring Victimhood

14:45 – 15:30 Pertti Grönholm (University of Turku) Eternal Struggle for Liberation: Narratives of War in Post-Soviet Estonian Political History Speech

15:30 – 16:15 Lina Klymenko (Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland) World War II in Ukrainian History School Textbooks

16:15 – Free Discussion

Fruits and refreshments

Dr. Tatiana Zhurhenko started as a new researcher of our project on July 4 and will work with with until the end of May 2013.

Tatiana holds a Candidate of Sciences Degree in Social Philosophy from V. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine (1993). She has recently worked as an Elise Richter Research Fellow (Senior Postdoc) at the Department of Political Science, University of Vienna (2007 to 2011) and from February to May 2012 she was a visiting scholar in the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute of the Harvard University. Zhurzhenko’s scholarly interests include post-Soviet borders and regional identities, issues of memory and language politics, feminism and nationalism, gender aspects of the welfare state, and family politics. Her book Borderlands into Bordered Lands: Geopolitics of Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine was awarded with the AAUS prize for the Best Book 2010 in Ukrainian Studies.

Jussi and Matti made a field trip to St. Petersburg WWII-museums and memorial sites in June 11-13, and Jussi in Moscow WWII-museums and memorial sites in June 13-16.

Jussi held a lecture “Venäjä, nuoriso ja kansallismielisyys” (Russia, youth and nationalism) with a special focus on the memory of the Great Patriotic War, Pää ja sydän-Lecture series (Helsinki as the Capital of Finland 200-year jubilee), Helsinki City Hall, May 9, 2012.

Markku, Matti and Jussi held the course “Toisen maailmansodan historian politiikkaa: Venäjä, Suomi ja Viro eurooppalaisessa kontekstissa” (History politics of WW II: Russia, Finland and Estonia in the European Context) in January 18 – March 4, 2012 at the University of Helsinki. This was the second time when the course was organized.  And again, in light of many students´ active participating and positive response, the course proved to be successful. The course will be organized in winter-spring 2013 as well.

Markku delivered paper Changing Interpretations of Victory Day in Russia at the seminar “History, Memory and Politics”, HCAS December 1, 2011.

The Helsinki-team participated in the annual ASEEES Convention in Washington DC 17-20 November 2011  and delivered the following panel:

Victims at War – Mythscapes and Politics of WWII in Russia and its Neighborhood

Chair: Hanna Smith, U of Helsinki (Finland)


Papers: Jussi Lassila, U of Helsinki (Finland): “Russian Civic Activism within the Great Patriotic War”

Matti Jutila, U of Helsinki (Finland): “Western Remembrance of the Victims in the East: Politics of WWII in pan-European Parliamentary Assemblies”

Markku Kangaspuro, U of Helsinki (Finland): “Finnish Victim Narrative on Winter War and Continuation War”


Disc.: Jeremy Smith, U of Eastern Finland (Finland)

Jussi and Matti made a field trip to St.Petersburg and its outskirts to gather information from museums related to the blockade of Leningrad, November 3-5, 2011

Jussi delivered paper Witnessing the War, Globalizing the Victory: Representations of World War II on the Website ‘Russia Today’ at the conference “Old Conflicts, New Media: Commemorating the Socialist Experience Online” organized by the Bergen group of the Memory at War project. Solstrand, Os, Norway 31.8-2.9.2011.

Matti Jutila organized a course: “Politics of Nations in Europe Today” for the Helsinki Summer School in August 2011. Thirty students from around the world participated. The course included Jutila’s lectures on nationalist history politics and an excursion to Tallinn to the Museum of Occupations of Estonia. The course will most likely be organized again in August 2012. For more information click here.

Matti Jutila defended his PhD thesis titled: “Nationalism Circumscribed: Transnational Governance of Minority Rights in Post-Cold War Europe”. The public examination took place in the University of Helsinki on 18 June 2011. Professor Will Kymlicka served as the opponent in the examination. You can find the abstract of the thesis from here.

Jussi and Matti made a field trip to St.Petersburg to gather information from museums related to the blockade of Leningrad, May 15-17, 2011.

Markku delivered a paper in East European Memory Studies Research Group at Cambridge 27 April 2011.

The Helsinki team will attend the annual BASEES Conference in Cambridge, U.K. in April 2-4.2011 with the presentations directly related to the project. Markku will give a paper “Interpretations of WWII and the Great Patriotic War” in the panel titled “The Second World War”. Matti and Jussi will present their papers in the panel “The Soviet Story”. Matti´s presentation is “Marxist Ethnopolitics in “The Soviet Story”” and Jussi´s is “Reception of the “The Soviet Story” in Russia”

Jussi  defended his doctoral dissertation titled “Anticipating Ideal Youth in Putin’s Russia: The Web-texts, Communicative Demands, and Symbolic Capital of the Youth Movements ‘Nashi’ and ‘Idushchie Vmeste'” in March 19, 2011 at the University of Jyväskylä. Opponent of the public examination was Dr. Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (University of Edinburgh) and custos was professor Marjatta Vanhala-Aniszewski (University of Jyväskylä).

Abstract of the Dissertation

The study analyses the political communication of two pro-Putin youth movements – Nashi, and its predecessor Idushchie Vmeste – using the movements’ foundational/recruitment documents, texts from their websites and interviews with activists. On the basis of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the fields of cultural production the study understands the movements as anticipating ‘ideal youth’ within the framework of official national identity politics and seeking to mobilise youth within this framework. These twofold communicative demands create the major tension in the movements’ discursive production of ideal youth. This tension, illustrates, on the one hand, the development of the communicative strategies from Idushchie Vmeste to Nashi, and, on the other, Nashi’s continuous attempt to manage this tension by particular symbolic practices. The most well-known activities by the movements – the Exchange of Books by Idushchie Vmeste, and The Bronze Soldier by Nashi – demonstrate how the movements’ position between state-didactics and youth’s distinctive stimulation vented as a form of carnivalism. This results as infelicitous anticipation of ideal youth. The study explores the socially controlled, conventionalized, and adopted communicative practices that are linked to post-Soviet national identity formation with the social and political activity of Russian youth.

The dissertation has not been published. Copies are available on request from Jussi.


About Jussi P Lassila

PhD, Researcher at the Aleksanteri-institute
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