¹ 1, 2021
The article analyzes the images of the Irkutsk city center in the memories of the representatives of two marginal groups — street children and venders, who lived and worked there from 1999 to 2006, as well as its mo dern images in the public statements of the urban elites. The aim of the study is to identify the functions that the city center performed during the years of deep social transformations and to reveal why today one wants to forget about it as soon as possible.
The author argues that the places mentioned by the respondents and the actions performed in those places largely shaped the current ideas about the period of social chaos in the “post-Soviet” city — a period of uncertainty, violence and fear. Today, these places and functions are mostly memories, which are gradually being replaced by the simplified and emotionally rich myths about the past that are being broadcast by the urban political regimes. The latter displace marginal groups from the center and change the places they previously occupied, simultaneously altering the collective memory associated with these places.
The article puts forward and justifies a hypothesis that starting from the mid-1990s and almost until the end of the 2000s these territories were used by the majority of citizens as an extra-institutional interface necessary for connecting to the city resource node. This function has become the primary cause of fierce conflicts, during which numerous enforcers tried to establish a monopoly on the collection of rents from the human and resource flows concentrated there. The image of the center as a deviant place was constructed simultaneously by the urban regimes and marginal groups: the former used it as a weapon in the struggle for the “right to the city,” the latter associated it with the collective trauma they had experienced.
Main Page ~ Authors ~ D. O.Timoshkin