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  • Воображаемая преемственность: дореволюционное геральдическое наследие в советской городской символике (1953–1991)

Article

Воображаемая преемственность: дореволюционное геральдическое наследие в советской городской символике (1953–1991)

Манжурин Е. А.

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The paper analyses uses of imperial period territorial heraldry in city symbols (emblems and coats of arms) adopted by Soviet cities in a grassroot initiative in poststalinist Soviet Union. Building on numerous local cases from Penza (1964) to Soviet Lithuania (1966-1970) and from Syktyvkar (1978) to Sumy (1988), the paper argues that in employing imperial heraldic elements laden with political overtones the creators of (legally dubious) Soviet city arms tried to establish imagined continuity with pre-Soviet (and essentially non-Soviet) history in effect producing alternative local visions of space and time. These visions emphasized historical continuity rather than rupture and radical change of both symbolic language and vision of time suggested by the centrally manufactured Soviet visuals. City arms combined distinctly Soviet elements with symbols borrowed from the pre-Soviet past, national symbolic repertoires and locally important elements. Such apposition eroded the superiority of the authoritative visual discourse and interpreted Soviet era as just one more period in multiple local histories. The imagined continuity in Soviet city symbols served as an instrument of doubt and posed subtle local challenges to the centrally designed symbolic and political order. The paper’s introduction of novel type of sources and its decentralized viewpoint opens new opportunities for study of center periphery relations, representations of time and space, local and Soviet identities and subjectivities in the late Soviet Union.