Ovchinnikov A. V. «Revival» of Bolghar and Sviyazhsk:contemporary experience of constructing historical memory (.pdf)
The paper examines contemporary experience of constructing images of historical memory on the example of Tatarstan. Bolghar and Sviyazhsk are positioned as “sacred” architectural and archaeological sites. Bolghar is a town of the small medieval state of Volga Bulgaria (Middle Volga). The heyday of the settlement falls on the Golden Horde period. On the territory of the Bolghar settlement, there are several ruined stone structures of that time. Sviyazhsk was founded by Ivan IV not far from Kazan in 1551 as a military base for capturing the city. Monasteries and churches of the 16th – early 20th centuries were preserved on the island. The main difference between Bolghar, Sviyazhsk and other Russian «new sacred spaces» is that the initiative and the main actions of the «revival» belong to regional authorities, who unsuccessfully seek to establish their own ideology only partially integrated with the federal one. The restoration of monuments is accompanied by a broad campaign for voluntary fund-raising among the local population. For these purposes, a non-profit regional Foundation for the revival of monuments of history and culture of the Republic of Tatarstan was organized. Bolghar and Sviyazhsk were announced as symbols of Tatars and Russians living in Tatarstan. Narratives of national history are constructed around these objects, and it is productive to study them from the perspective of Levi-Strauss’s theory of myth. The author states that there is a conflict potential of such constructions. If the relationship between regional and federal elites worsen, Bulgarian monuments can “ransform” into a “holy symbol of the centuries-old struggle of Tatarstan for their rights”, and Sviyazhsk will be announced primarily as the base of the conquests of Ivan IV.
Key words: Republic of Tatarstan, Bolghar, Sviyazhsk, Mintimer Shaimiyev, «Tatar Islam», historical memory, myth.