Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

The Past as a Limited Resource: Historical Politics and the Economics of Rent (the "Black Gold" of Russian History)


Lecture Date:

Monday, December 5, 7 pm (UTC+3)

Translating the conversation about historical politics into the language of economics, one can find a more fundamental – than the political hot topic of the day – political economy substratum that determines how the historical past circulates in the present. The production and dissemination of public historical knowledge can be described through the economic model of a branched holding, in which the parent company (the state) distributes orders and issues licenses for the development and utilizing resources of the historical past to other companies (media, the Academy of Sciences, higher education, school education, institutions of high and mass culture, pseudo-NGO, such as the Geographical, Historical or Military Historical Societies). In turn, the latter pay for the right to access this resource and to distribute goods produced on its basis with their political loyalty and the ideological specificity of the products supplied. Within the framework of this resource cultural policy, Russian history becomes the same “black gold” as oil: it turns into a raw material, purified from unnecessary cultural, political, ideological impurities and monopolized in the interests of the ruling regime. The lecture will be devoted to the description of the mechanisms of such purification and monopolization.