Post-Soviet Trauma in the Nordic Imagination: Occupation and Sex Trafficking in Purge and Lilya 4-Ever

Open access


The traumas of the twentieth century affected the development of trauma narrative in literature and cinema. Much of the trauma theory in different disciplines developed largely from the Holocaust literature as well as from gender-based violence. The criticism of many examples in contemporary trauma theory has been that they are applicable only to Western countries and do not take into account the difficult transitions between the non-Western and Western world. The countries that had gone through a brutal occupation of the Soviet Union also experienced the trauma of transformation, as whole societies turned into post-Soviet nations next to the developed Nordic/ Western states. This article will examine the representations of trauma in Sofi Oksanen’s fictional narrative Purge (Puhdistus, 2008) and Lukas Moodysson’s cinematic narrative Lilya 4-Ever (Lilja 4-ever, Sweden/Denmark, 2002) and off er an analysis of the trauma of transitions in the borderland between the post-Soviet and Nordic countries. Both Oksanen and Moodysson, as observers from the Nordic countries (Finland and Sweden respectively), have chosen to depict the post-Soviet trauma through a female body which is trapped in forced prostitution in Western Europe or Scandinavia and her emotions and reactions to her trauma. This article will argue that both authors contribute to the post-Cold War discourse that discusses the cultural borders between “East” and “West”, presenting a trauma of globalisation, drawing attention to unspoken subjects, but also contributing to the existing views of post- Soviet spaces as ruined and traumatising.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Ahmed Sara 2004. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

  • Alexander Jeffrey C. 2004. ‘Toward a Theory of Cultural Trauma’. - Jeffrey C. Alexander (ed.) Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press 1-30.

  • Benedek Márton 2011. ‘I Wanted to Tear Those Stereotypes Apart. An Interview with Sofi Oksanen’. - Hungarian Literature Online 7 May. (20 April 2014).

  • Borenstein Eliot 2006. ‘Selling Russia: Prostitution Masculinity and Metaphors of Nationalism after Perestroika’. - Helena Goscilo Andrea Lanoux (eds.) Gender and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Russian Culture. DeKalb: Northern lllinois University Press 174-195.

  • Bourdieu Pierre [1998] 2001. Masculine Domination. Trans. Richard Nice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Caruth Cathy 1996. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma Narrative and History. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

  • Coxe Brinton Tench 2010. ‘Playground-Graveyard: Violence the Body and Borderline Urban Space in Lilya 4-Ever’. - Ulbandus: The Slavic Review of Columbia University 13 29-40.

  • Craps Stef 2014. ‘Beyond Eurocentrism: Trauma Theory in the Global Age’. - Gert Buelens Sam Durrant Robert Eaglestone (eds.) The Future of Trauma Theory. London New York: Routledge 45-62.

  • Damian Diana 2012. ‘Sofi Oksanen’. - Exeunt Magazine 27 February. (12 December 2013).

  • Farley Melissa 2006. ‘Prostitution Is Sexual Violence’. - Louise Gerdes (ed.) Prostitution and Sex Traffi cking. Detroit: Greenhaven Press 101-109.

  • Herman Judith 1997. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books.

  • Kaplinski Jaan 2007. ‘From Harem to Brothel’. - Eurozine 30 June. (20 March 2014).

  • Kaplinski Jaan 2010. ‘Sofi Oksanen and the Stalin Award’. - Ummamuudu 24 March. (20 March 2014).

  • Kuldkepp Mart 2013. ‘The Scandinavian Connection in Early Estonian Nationalism’. - Journal of Baltic Studies 44 3 313-338.

  • Lappalainen Päivi 2011. ‘Häpeä ruumis ja väkivalta Sofi Oksasen Puhdistuksessa’. - Siru Kainulainen Viola Parente-Čapková (eds.) Häpeä vähän! Kriittisiä tutkimuksia häpeästä. Turku: Uniprint 259-281.

  • Laub Dori; Felman Shoshana 1991. Testimony: Crises in Witnessing in Literature Psychoanalysis and History. New York: Routledge.

  • Lehti Marko 2003. ‘Possessing a Baltic Europe: Retold National Narratives in the European North’. - Marko Lehti David J. Smith (eds.) Post-Cold War Identity Politics. London Portland: Frank Cass 11-49.

  • Llewellyn Barstow Anne 2000. War’s Dirty Secret. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press.

  • Luckhurst Roger 2008. The Trauma Question. New York: Routledge.

  • Made Vahur 2003. ‘Estonia and Europe: A Common Identity or an Identity Crisis?’ - Marko Lehti David J. Smith (eds.) Post-Cold War Identity Politics. London Portland: Frank Cass 183-198.

  • Nestingen Andrew 2008. Crime and Fantasy in Scandinavia: Fiction Film and Social Change. Seattle London: University of Washington Press; University of Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.

  • Nõmmela Ruta 2002. ‘Lilja 4-Ever hoiatab rootslasi’. - Eesti Päevaleht 25 November. (20 April 2014).

  • O’Hagan Sean 2003. ‘Moody by Name...’. - The Guardian 12 April. (12 December 2013).

  • Oksanen Sofi [2008] 2010. Purge. Trans. Lola Rodgers. New York: Black Cat.

  • Richters Annemiek 1998. ‘Sexual Violence in Wartime. Psycho-Sociocultural Wounds and Healing Processes: The Example of the Former Yugoslavia’. - Patrick J. Bracken Celia Patty (eds.) Rethinking the Trauma of War. London: Free Association Books 112-127.

  • Suchland Jennifer 2013. ‘Double Framing in Lilya 4-Ever: Sex Traffi cking and Postsocialist Abjection’. - European Journal of Cultural Studies 16 3 362-376.

  • Svenska Filminstitutet 2004. ‘Vad har mitt liv med Lilja att göra?’ (28 March 2014).

  • Sztompka Piotr 2004. ‘The Trauma of Social Change: A Case of Postcommunist Societies’. - Jeffrey C. Alexander (ed.) Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press 155-195.

  • Tali Piret 2010. ‘Kogu tõde Sofi O-st’. - Eesti Päevaleht 4 October. (20 March 2014).

  • Zabrowska Magdalena J.; Forrester Sibelan; Gapova Elena 2004. ‘Introduction: Mapping Postsocialist Cultural Studies’. - Sibelan Forrester Magdalena J. Zabrowska Elena Gapova (eds.) Over the Wall/After the Fall: Post-Communist Cultures through an East- West Gaze. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1-35

Gesamte Zeit Letztes Jahr Letzte 30 Tage
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 200 88 3
PDF Downloads 129 80 2