From the frontier of opposition to the ruins of oblivion, or politics of memory in post-socialist Inner Asia

From the frontier of opposition to the ruins of oblivion, or politics of memory in post-socialist Inner Asia

Article received: 2022.10.11. Accepted: 2023.06.28

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.06.08

For citation:

Mikhalev A.V. From the frontier of opposition to the ruins of oblivion, or politics of memory in post-socialist Inner Asia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 6. P. 100-112. (In Russ.). EDN: OHFTIY

The article was prepared with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation, project No. 22-28-01087,


The presented article discusses how politics of memory changed in the territory of Inner Asia in relation to the history of the demilitarization of the Soviet-Mongolian border. Memories of the withdrawal of troops from Mongolia from 1989 to 1992 and the destruction of one of Asia’s most powerful fortified areas remain traumatic to this day. In this paper, we analyze two key trends in the politics of memory in Inner Asia: the resentment of the Soviet past and the trauma of the collapse of the USSR. These are two competing models that frame the memory, not only of the withdrawal of troops from Mongolia, but also of the collapse of the huge military zone created during the Sino-Soviet confrontation in the region in the 1960s-1980s. It is not just a large fortified area with a developed social infrastructure, but also an important place of memory. Tens of thousands of Soviet citizens who worked or served in Mongolia in the 1960s-1980s contributed to its creation or to the maintenance of this frontier. Our study was based on memorial laws, personal memories, materials from the regional press, and considered the practice of reformatting monuments to Soviet soldiers in accordance with new contexts. The practices of oblivion, which are becoming increasingly widespread, were also analyzed. Exclusion from official documents, ignoring at the level of political rhetoric certain aspects of the history of socialism, the demolition of monuments, the elimination of places where military rituals were performed – all this transforms the former “crush zone” into a vast expanse of oblivion.

politics of memory, Inner Asia, oblivion, commemoration, Russian world, ruins, Soviet legacy.


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Content No. 6, 2023

See also:

Malinova O.Yu.,
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Abazov R.F.,
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Zvereva T.V.,
On Russia in the World and the World in Russia (N.E. Bazhanova: Ad Memoriam). – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No5

Editorial Introduction,
Manuscripts Don’t Burn! Introduction to the Rubric “Symbolic Politics”. – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No4



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