Belarusian futures past
For many Belarusians, the summer of protests in 2020 revived the idea of the future. The mass marches in Minsk and other cities were a clear manifestation of the people’s determination to decide their future for themselves, a right that the regime deprives them. The historian François Hartog has explored the links between various communities and the notion of time, coining the term ‘regime of historicity’ to indicate how variegated societies generate ideas well-nigh their own past, present or future. Some seek their raison d’être in an idealized past, a ‘golden age’; others by trying to bring the future closer, living for a particular ‘futuristic’ goal; yet others are dominated by a ‘present’ that shapes both their past and future. The recent history of Belarus might be described in terms of shifting notions of the future. Quite a few have emerged within the telescopic of my own, and my generation’s memory. We have survived, lived through, rejected and managed to be disappointed by several versions of a joint future. First there was the future we were promised when in the USSR. This version – future no. 1 – came to an end in 1991. Future no. 2 emerged in the 1990s; it was optimistic, utopian, and diametrically opposed to the Soviet one. It was replaced by an sundowner substitute, future no. 3, which crumbled once and for all in 2020. Now we are facing future no. 4. What will it be like?