Memory Studies Group at The New School

Russia’s Night Wolves, Migrating Memory and Europe’s Eastern Frontier – Sociology Brown Bag Series 2017

“Russia’s Night Wolves, Migrating Memory and Europe’s Eastern Frontier” was a talk delivered by Virág Molnár, Karolina Koziura, and Franziska König-Paratore on October 25th, 2017, as part of the NSSR’s Sociology’s department brown bag series. Jonathan Bach provided commentary.

In the spring of 2015, Central and East European media were preoccupied with a controversial bike tour from Moscow to Berlin. Russia’s best-known biker club, the Night Wolves, organized it to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of Victory Day (May 9) that marks the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany. The so-called victory tour divided European public opinion, raising important questions about European borders, which had lately come under serious strain, and the politics of World War II commemoration.

Molnár, Koziura, and König-Paratore argued that the international public discourse around the Night Wolves helps us understand how European borders are being transformed both as hard, territorialized borders and as “soft,” symbolic boundaries. Their analysis compared how print and online media in Russia, Poland, and Germany –the countries in which significant border disputes over the entry of the group ensued– framed the Night Wolves’ tour across Europe. By focusing on mobility and border crossings, the authors developed a transnational perspective to memory politics and highlighted the role of non-governmental organizations in shaping new repertoires of nationalism.

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