Håvard Bækken: Merging wars. The wartime exploitation of the Great Patriotic War in Russian military patriotic clubs
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The lecture examines the exploitation of war memories within military patriotic youth clubs in the Russian High North. The activities and shared material posted on local social media accounts suggest a widespread practice of symbolically merging the warfare in Ukraine with the Great Patriotic War (GPW). The “war merging tools” include brief statements, symbol use, visual imagery and contextualization. Rarely referring to historical events except at a great level of abstraction, war merging instead appeals to internalized narratives and emotional attachment to the GPW. The practice dominates the military patriotic clubs coverage of the ongoing war, and most declarations of support of Russian troops is filtered through its quasi-historical lens. In lack of actual information, many Russian children may thus experience the ongoing war primarily through state-approved symbols of historical origin.
Håvard Bækken is a NORMEMO project participant, and a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. He has a PhD in Russian Area Studies. His current research focus is memory politics, militarism and military patriotic education in Russia. Recent publications include Guns and glory: A dualistic perspective on resurgent militarism in Russia (2022); Patriotic disunity: limits to popular support for militaristic policy in Russia (2021); Identity under siege: Selective securitization of history in Putin's Russia (2020); The return to patriotic education in Post-Soviet Russia: How, when, and why the Russian military engaged in civilian nation building (2019). Bækken has also published on quasi-legal repression in Russian politics, and is the author of the book Law and power in Russia: Making sense of quasi-legal practices (2019).