Boundary objects of Communism: Assembling the Soviet past in museums
In this article I argue that the organization theory perspective of boundary objects can usefully enrich the studies of the presentations of the Soviet past in museums. I draw on Susan Lei Star’s and James R. Griesemer’s concept of boundary object to show how diﬀerent objects and material structures are attributed to the Communist era, assembled as cultural heritage and translated between diﬀerent ﬁelds of professional expertise and institutional politics. Focusing on three cases of museums in Lithuania, I show that the museum expositions about the Soviet past should not be understood as a result of a linear, top-down dissemination of the oﬃcial views endorsed by the governing elites. In contrast, I propose that these museums are better understood as sites that host many diﬀerent social processes, where diﬀerent groups compete over the management of boundaries of the relics of the Soviet past.
Rindzeviciute, Egle (2018) Boundary objects of communism : assembling the Soviet past in Lithuanian museums. Ethnologie Francaise, 2018(2).
Full text here: Ethnologie Francaise (2018)
The Overflow of Secrets:
The Disclosure of Soviet Repression in Museums as an Excess
This article uses the metaphor of overflow to understand the role played by the revelation of previously secret experience in the controversial Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, Lithuania. It shows how efforts to disclose Soviet repression and to consolidate and sustain a particular community of survivors, the Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees, produced an “excess” of revelation in a context of radical political change, which in the process led to a failure to represent the complexity of Lithuania’s past, by sidelining the Holocaust in its narrative of repression. In contrast to other studies that understand this Museum as an instrument of a particular governmental ideology, I suggest an alternative explanation of the origins and character of this museum, arguing that it should be understood as a community museum. I argue that the Museum’s failure to provide a balanced presentation of the past is better understood as an effect of an excessive desire to reveal the particular experiences of this community, which I describe as an overflow of meanings, not merely a result of the governmental elite’s will to suppress alternative versions of the past.
Rindzevičiūtė, Eglė. “The Overflow of Secrets: The Disclosure of Soviet Repression in Museums as an Excess”. Current Anthropology vol. 56 (2015): S276-S285.
Full text here: Current Anthropology
Institutional Entrepreneurs of a Difficult Past:
The Organisation of Knowledge Regimes in Post-Soviet Lithuanian Museums
European Studies, vol. 30 (2013): pp.65-93.
Imagining the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:
The Politics and Economics of the Rebuilding of Trakai Castle and the ‘Palace of Sovereigns’
Central Europe, vol.8, no. 2 (2010): pp.180-202.
Soviet Lithuanians, Amber and the ‘The New Balts’:
Historical Narratives of National and Regional Identities in Lithuanian Museums, 1940-2009
Culture Unbound, vol.2 (2010): pp.665-694.
Geopolitics of Distinction:
Negotiating Regional Spaces in the Baltic Museums
Aronsson P. and GradenL. (eds) Performing Nordic Heritage. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013, pp. 221-246.
Hegemony or Legitimacy?
Assembling Soviet Deportations in Lithuanian Museums
Balkelis T. & Davoliute, V. (eds) Maps of Memory: Trauma, Identity and Exile in Deportation Memoirs from the Baltic States, Vilnius: LLTI, 2012, pp.153-177.
National Museums in Lithuania: A Story of State Building (1855-2010)
Aronsson, P. & Elgenius, G. (eds) Building National Museums in Europe 1750–2010. EuNaMus Report No. 1. Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2011, pp. 521-52.