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A Public EmpireProperty and the Quest for the Common Good in Imperial Russia$
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Ekaterina Pravilova

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159058

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159058.001.0001

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Inventing National Patrimony

Inventing National Patrimony

(p.131) 4 Inventing National Patrimony
A Public Empire

Ekaterina Pravilova

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes the processes of ascribing new meanings and values (spiritual and material) to objects by appropriating them into the realm of artistic and historical patrimony. It first focuses on the most revealing example: the campaign for the preservation of religious architecture and art that began in the 1830s and reached its culmination in the 1880s–1900s. One of the main intrigues of this campaign was that the objects of contestation—churches and icons—were supposed to be by definition alien to an essentially secular liberal ideology of public domain. However, in fin-de-siècle Russia, religious art “discovered anew” became a tool of both mobilizing and modernizing society. By making Russian religious art less religious and more aesthetic through the discursive and factual (legal, by nationalization) alienation of churches and their belongings, the proponents of preservation strove to create common cultural ground for the people and the elite.

Keywords:   religious architecture, religious art, Russian art, churches, religious icons, public property

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