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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 3, Issue 2, Fall 2011

Xenia Srebrianski-Harwell
Pages 161-190
DOI: 10.7761/ESP.3.2.161

Celebrating the Russian Past
Émigré Festivities in 1950s/1960s New York

This article examines specific celebration rituals of two groups of Russian émigrés during the period of the mid-1950s to early 1960s. The groups, comprised of former officers of the Russian imperial army and of graduates of schools for noble girls, often situated their festivities within a Russian Orthodox Church building located at Madison Avenue and 121st Street in Manhattan. The celebrations, spatially enclosed and separated from the outside world within this structure, suggest their privileged and exclusive nature. The staging and performance of the celebration, while acknowledging displacement and exile, re-inscribed the spatial enclosure with the Russian past through the reenactment of Russian cultural traditions and social hierarchies, thereby validating the lives and identities of the celebrants.