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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Leda Cooks

Second Advisor

Julie Hemment

Third Advisor

Gonen Dori-Hacohen

Fourth Advisor

Sergey Glebov

Subject Categories

Communication Technology and New Media | Critical and Cultural Studies | Eastern European Studies | Linguistic Anthropology | Organizational Communication | Political Theory | Public History | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Influence and Political Communication | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies


This dissertation examines Russia—My History, a recent state-affiliated multimedia exhibit, as a case study in post-imperial and postsocialist nation building at a critical juncture in Russian history. In 2014, Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. The ensuing controversy, both at home and abroad, called for a new vision of Russia’s political community and its history. Russia—My History answered that call. Started in 2013 as a Church-affiliated temporary exhibit on one of Russia’s royal dynasties, after the annexation, My History grew and transformed into a countrywide chain of 25 permanent “history parks,” covering “all” of Russian history and formally approved by the Ministry of Education as an interactive supplement to the public-school curriculum in history. Despite the strong appearance that My History is a top-down, state-led nation-building project, a closer analysis reveals a different view. I argue that My History has been produced—with the support of the state—by an informally connected network of “patriotically-minded” political entrepreneurs promoting somewhat different ideological projects and allied in opposition to the Western liberal order. My dissertation examines My History as both the product of this collaboration—a diachronic vision of Russia’s political community—and as an illustration of the paradoxical and contingent ways in which this community is constructed in the contentious post-Crimean era. The study is based on several rounds of ethnographic and digital-ethnographic fieldwork and brings together theories of nationalism and empire, Foucauldian genealogy, performance studies, and Bakhtinian narrative analysis. The purpose of the study is to deconstruct My History, retracing the institution’s genealogy and its product’s continuous revisions. The dissertation offers three analytical chapters, which answer three seemingly simple questions: who made My History; what stories it tells; and how it tells these stories. The first chapter examines My History as a cultural institution that gradually emerges at the intersection of interests promoted by state and non-state actors and in response to changing political circumstances. The other two explore the simultaneous transformations of My History’s fragmented museum performances and narratives, which reveal their authors’ conflicting ideologies and projects and illustrate political struggle hidden behind the imposing façade of a state-affiliated institution.