Archives and Memory
Archives are sometimes thought of as storehouses of memory, sometimes as a set of authoritative writings that are the opposite of popular memory. This chapter considers the relationship by comparing archival accounts of religious life to oral tradition in the Volga region and other parts of Russia. Using accounts of rural ritual, new functions of graveyards, and memories of the destruction of sacred sites as examples, the chapter identifies three possible relationships between archival and oral sources: complementarity, convergence, and contradiction. Though far from presenting us with an authentic believer’s perspective outside Soviet offical discourse, memory points to the gaps in archival documentation, helping us to see the logics of archival selection more clearly.
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