Translating Memories Online Speaker Series: Simon Weppel

On May 10th, PhD Candidate and Cambridge Trust Scholar at the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre Simon Weppel will give a talk at Tallinn University.

Heritage temporality

Simon Weppel's talk “Stepping Over the Threshold of Time”: The Rise of Heritage in the Brezhnev-Era Soviet Union will be taking place on May 10th at 4 pm via Zoom.

Join us here.



In this paper, I will demonstrate what I argue is the development of a ‘heritage temporality’ in the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union. On the basis of a discourse analysis of visitor guidebooks, tourist brochures, and newspaper articles relating to three Lenin museums, I trace a shift in how past, present, and future are discussed in late Soviet society.
Until the mid-1960s, these highly ideologically charged sites emphasise their educational and agitational purpose, describing themselves as ‘sources of inspiration’ for the builders of communism. In the late 1960s and 1970s, however, a gradual change takes place: guidebooks invoke the future ever more rarely, instead inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the historic surroundings of days gone by. Increasingly, the museums favour the restoration and preservation of an idealised past over the continuation of their erstwhile future-oriented discourses.
My paper will theorise this phenomenon and place it into the wider cultural and historical context of the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union, drawing on Reinhart Koselleck’s dichotomy of the ‘space of experience’ and ‘horizon of expectation’ in order to investigate the preconditions for the rise of heritage as a cultural phenomenon – both in the Soviet Union and globally.

Simon Weppel is a PhD Candidate and Cambridge Trust Scholar at the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, University of Cambridge. He holds a BA from the Free University Berlin, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and has spent time at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and SciencesPo, Paris. His doctoral project studies the development of heritage preservation in the later Soviet Union.

The speaker series is part of the project Translating Memories: The Eastern European Past on the Global Arena, Tallinn University, Estonia that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No 853385).