Writing the War: Constructing Official Memory of the Chechen Wars in Modern Russia

The conflict in Chechnya offers an interesting, undeniably tragic story, but how is that story told in Russia? Given the restriction on the press, and any government’s interest in presenting their own wars favorably, I believe that I will find a different story in Russia than the one I have read about. This project aims to analyze the construction of official memory of the Chechen Wars in Russia. By examining several different types of sources, I hope to specifically examine the constructed history of three individuals: Akhmat Kadyrov, Anna Politkovskaya, and Shamil Basayev, all involved in quite different ways in the conflict in Chechnya. I will be reading newspaper sources, official statements, and other sources from those with the power to make meaning. Additionally, I will spend a part of the summer in Russia, examining sites of memory such as Kadyrov bridge in St. Petersburg and the site of Politkovskaya’s assassination in Moscow, and hopefully discussing with Russian citizens their own memory of the wars. All this will be grounded in readings on cultural memory and official histories. At the end, I hope to have learned how the histories of these three individuals is told, and what that says about the construction of official memory of the Chechen Wars in Russia.

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