Disturbing the Sound of Silence: Towards the Thick Vision of the Long Soviet Silence

Maria Tumarkin


This is the first paper I have written that seeks to connect explicitly my thoughts and research with the field of performance studies. It strikes me that silence – my subject matter here – has a far more nuanced and differentiated presence in the world of performance studies than in the broadly intersecting fields of memory and trauma studies, where I have had my tent set up for the past decade. I have come to silence by way of my research into the historical and psychic legacy of the seven decades of terror in the former Soviet Union.

The more I threw myself into my research, the less certain I felt about things I thought I knew about trauma and memory. Perhaps, most critically, as this paper testifies, I have found myself increasingly unsure about the ways in which silence had been heard and imagined in much of the present day writing on memory and trauma.

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