Advertisement

Pussy Riot, or the Return of the Repressed in Discourse

  • Maria Brock
Chapter
Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial book series (STIP)

Abstract

While a ‘return of the repressed’ is commonly linked to neurotic symptoms, the title of this chapter reflects the argument that there can be a return of the repressed in and through discourse. The discussion is based on a reading of reactions to the performance and subsequent imprisonment of Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot in 2012. The strongly negative reactions to the group in Russia featured not only discursive reenactments of gendered fantasmatic violence; the language also frequently called to mind the linguistic repertoire of Stalinism. This – linguistic and other – violence was symptomatic of a collective unease with the ambiguity inherent in the multiple meanings of the group’s name and the nature of their performances, as they evoked a return to instability and chaos. It may seem self-evident that societal antagonisms are revealed by such ‘spontaneous’ linguistic outbursts, but it is worth paying attention to the language employed in order to understand which elements of the past are conjured by it, and why. When language is uprooted and retrieved from a previous historical context, it can retain a violent charge that comes back to haunt the speaking subject and its discourse. This chapter assumes a psychosocial perspective in order to reflect on the relationship between language and history, with the aim of finding a means of speaking of the social so as to understand the relationship between violent language and ‘unfinished history.’

References

  1. Alcorn, M. W. (2002). Changing the subject in English class: Discourse and the constructions of desire. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Beard, M. (2014). The public voice of women. London Review of Books, 36(6), 11–14.Google Scholar
  3. Bernstein, A. (2013). An inadvertent sacrifice: Body politics and sovereign power in the Pussy Riot affair. Critical Inquiry, 40(1), 220–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borenstein, E. (2008). Overkill: Sex and violence in contemporary Russian popular culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Borusyak, L. (2012, October 5). After the performance. Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Retrieved from http://www.ng.ru/ideas/2012-10-05/5_reaction.html.
  6. Brock, M. (2016). A psychosocial analysis of Pussy Riot: Velvet Revolution or Frenzied Uteri. Subjectivity, 9(2), 126–144.  https://doi.org/10.1057/sub.2016.5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Budraitskis, I. (2014). The weakest link of managed democracy: How the parliament gave birth to nonparliamentary politics. South Atlantic Quarterly, 113(1), 169–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Butler, J. (1997). Excitable speech: A politics of the performative. New York & London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Freud, S. (1957). Repression. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 14), pp. 7–66. London: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1915).Google Scholar
  10. Freud, S. (1958). Remembering, repeating and working-through (Further recommendations on the technique of psycho-analysis II). In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 12), pp. 145–156. London: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1914).Google Scholar
  11. Frosh, S. (2013). Hauntings: Psychoanalysis and ghostly transmissions. Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gordon, A. (1997). Ghostly matters: Haunting and the sociological imagination. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gorham, M.S. (2014) After newspeak: Language culture and politics in Russia from Gorbachev to Putin. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gradskova, Y., Sandomirskaja, I., & Petrusenko, N. (2013, February 20). Pussy Riot: Reflections on receptions. Baltic Worlds. Retrieved from: http://balticworlds.com/reflections-on-receptions/?s=pussy%20riot.
  15. Gusejnov, G. (2008). Язык и травма освобождения [Language and the trauma of liberation]. Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 94, 130–147.Google Scholar
  16. Gusejnov, G. (2012). Кондурация, или как понимать дело Pussy Riot. Logos, 1(85), 4–13.Google Scholar
  17. Interfax. (2012, October 4). The workers of “Togliattiazot” want to re-educate the Pussy Riot hooligans. Retrieved from http://www.interfax.ru/news.asp?id=269151.
  18. Kelly, C. (2016). The new Soviet man and woman. In S. Dixon (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of modern Russian history. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Krivyakina, E., & Afonina, E. (2012, August 16). Lev Rubinstein: Vozdux v Rossii propitan agressiej, Kartina dnja. Radio KP. Retrieved from http://www.kp.ru/daily/26511/3425745/.
  20. Kuntsman, A. (2008). Between gulags and pride parades: Sexuality, nation, and haunted speech acts. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 14(2), 263–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuntsman, A. (2010). Webs of hate in diasporic cyberspaces: The Gaza War in the Russian- language blogosphere. Media, War & Conflict, 3(3), 299–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lezina, E. (2017, March 24). The revival of ideology. Eurozine. Retrieved from: http://www.eurozine.com/the-revival-of-ideology/.
  23. Lipovetsky, M. (2015). Pussy Riot as the trickstar. Apparatus: Film, Media and Digital Cultures in Central and Eastern Europe (1).  https://doi.org/10.17892/app.2015.0001.5.
  24. Mangun, A. (2016). Hysterical Machiavellianism: Russian foreign policy and the international non-relation. Theory & Event, 19(3).Google Scholar
  25. Mitscherlich, A., & Mitscherlich, M. (1975). The inability to mourn. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  26. Norris, S. M. (2012). Blockbuster history in the new Russia: Movies, memory, and patriotism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Paperny, V. (2002). Architecture in the age of Stalin: Culture two. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ryazanova-Clarke, L. (2016). Linguistic violence in contemporary Russian public discourses. Zeitschrift für Slawistik, 61(1), 3–28.  https://doi.org/10.1515/slaw-2016-0002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ryklin, M. (2005). The new science of pogromology. #8: State of Emergency. Retrieved from: https://chtodelat.org/b8-newspapers/12-67/the-new-science-of-pogromology/.
  30. Sandomirskaja, I. (1995). Old wives’ tales: Notes on the rhetoric of the post-Soviet intelligentsia. Slavica Lundensia, 14, 55–71.Google Scholar
  31. Sandomirskaja, I. (2012, December 20). A precedent of the Pussy Riot trial: The trial and suicide of Anna Al’chuk (2003–2008). Baltic Worlds. Retrieved from http://balticworlds.com/the-trial-and-suicide-of-anna-al’chuk-2003-2008/.
  32. Schwab, G. (2010). Haunting legacies: Violent histories and transgenerational trauma. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Scott, J. C. (1990). Domination and the arts of resistance: Hidden transcripts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Sharogradskii, A. (2012, July 31) Obozrevatel’ RS Kirill Kobrin – o smesi Gororukhina s Mikhalkovym. Radio Svoboda. Retrieved from http://www.svoboda.org/a/24662246.html.
  35. Shevchenko, M. (2012, February 21). Voina bl***I. Vzglyad. Retrieved from https://vz.ru/opinions/2012/2/21/563073.html.
  36. TV100. (2012, September 19). ‘Pussy Riot’ just needs a good flogging? Russian Public Opinion Research Center. Retrieved from https://wciom.ru/index.php?id=241&uid=113054.
  37. Yuval-Davis, N. (1997). Gender & nation. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Brock
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Culture and Education, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES)Södertörn UniversityHuddingeSweden

Personalised recommendations