Elena Racheva

DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford

MA in History, with distinction, University of Manchester / Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences.

Specialist Diploma in Journalism (M.A. equiv.), with honours, Moscow State University



In my DPhil project, I want to prove that the aftermath of the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989) and two military operations in Chechnya (1994-1996, 1999-2000) still has a significant impact on Russian society. I argue that the wars changed Russian society in fundamental ways, from political and social processes down to the socialization of private citizens. In my work, I want to investigate the consequences of the wars in a political and social context, their influence on social structures and public discourses; veterans’ institutions and organizations together with individual experiences of ex-combatants. Besides, I shall investigate the commemorative practices and places of remembrance dedicated to these wars.

I am planning to use narrative interviews with war veterans and state officials as the main source for my research.

 In my master’s thesis, I used interviews with employees of the GULAG system in the 1940s-50s (which I collected in the 2010s) to analyze the structures of official Soviet discourses reflected in their autobiographical narratives.

My thesis will be a continuation of this earlier work on the legitimization and justification of violence, its perpetrators, and its place in the popular consciousness, dedicated to exploring them within the framework of cultural anthropology, based on case studies drawn from 20th century Russian history.

My interest in this topic has developed from my work as a  journalist which involved reporting on the military campaign in the Donbas region of Ukraine and meeting my potential interviewees (veterans of Afghan and Chechen wars) among the volunteers who had fought there.



Hill Foundation Scholarship in the University of Oxford (2018-2021)

Galina Starovoitova fellowship in the Kennan Institute (Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC, 2015-2016). Research project The Collective Memory of Stalin’s Repressions in the USSR as a Reflection of Contemporary Russian Politics.



E. Racheva. Volch’e mesto. (Wolf’s land) Common place, Moscow, 2018

A. Artemieva, E. Racheva. 58-ya. Neiz”yatoe. Istorii lyudei, kotorye perezhili to, chego my bol’she vsego boimsya. (Article 58. Unseized. Stories of GULAG Survivors and Perpetrtors). AST, Moscow, 2016.

Sinema verite. Dokumental’noe kino v perelomnyi god. (Cinema Verite. Documentary Cinema in a Watershed Year) Colta.ru, Moscow, 2014 – co-author.

Korpunkt v Beslane. Svidetel’stva ochevidtsev. Zhurnalistskie rassledovaniya. (Beslan Bureau. Eyewitness Testimony. Journalistic Investigations) Moscow, 2005 – co-author.

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