The Politics of Pity: Domesticating Loss in a Russian Province:
SERGUEI ALEX. OUSHAKINE
In this article, I explore how a group of women in a distant Russian province learned to live in the state of grief by creating a space for the traumatic experience in their daily order of things, their personal narratives, and public landscape. Using materials from my fieldwork in Siberia in 200103, I demonstrate how the Altai Regional Committee of the Soldiers' Mothers domesticated and privatized losses of their sons, which were caused by the Russian state's military politics of the last 20 years. By devising elaborate memorializating practices, the mothers managed to materialize evidence of their loss and suffering. It is precisely this collective and individual production of metonymies of death, I suggest, that not only became the main source of the Committee of the Soldiers' Mothers' new public identities but also acted as the principal vehicle of their politics of pity.