The seventy-four years of Soviet history saw the emergence of a new material culture. Its specific character was determined by a variety of factors that changed throughout the entire period.
The conference aims to discuss how diverse material worlds of Soviet things emerged and developed and to understand how the Soviet material environment ranging from industrial infrastructure to everyday objects influenced the lives and work of Soviet institutions, society, and individuals. What were the roles, networks, and practices of production, consumption, and exchange that created and reproduced the thing-system of the USSR?
The central question of the conference is: what was historically specific about the materialization of the Soviet way of life? How much did this process emulate the production of material environments in Europe, Asia, or America? What made Soviet things different from their non-Soviet counterparts?
We are interested in how both Soviet things and Soviet producers and consumers were made. How did the Soviet material world overlap with – and deviated from – the ideological foundations of the Soviet system at different stages of its history? To what degree did the objects of Soviet daily life act as guides and mediators between society, state, institutions, and individuals?
The conference organizers seek to discuss the following questions:
- The production of a new world. The materialization of Soviet ideas.
- The Soviet experiment. The materialization of early Soviet avant-garde.
- 100% Soviet. Propaganda and the symbols of the Sovietness. Soviet exports.
- “Soviet things are the best.” Propaganda and promotion of Soviet brands.
- The first in the world. Innovation and replication in the Soviet material world.
- On the shelf. The Soviet design.
- Socialist in form. National and regional specificities of Soviet materiality.
- Struggling for a better quality. Comparative characteristics of Soviet commodities.
- Rural and urban features of the material environment.
- To each according to their needs. Things for the material sphere of an “average person.”
- Conspicuous consumption. The signs of Soviet luxury.
- Gray market and shop windows. Things as markers of social distinction in Soviet society.
- Imported and contraband goods in Soviet lives.
- Brotherly help. Things from the Eastern bloc in the USSR.
- Tasty and healthy food. The making of the food basket.
- Recreational commodities. Things and the making of Soviet leisure.
- Do it yourself. Creative practices in an economy of shortage.
- A cultural layer. The contemporary recycling of Soviet things.
To apply for the conference please send a short paper proposal (300-500 words) and CV (2-3 pages) to email@example.com by May 23, 2022.
Conference organizers will cover accommodation in Tyumen. There is no conference registration fee. Papers can be presented in either English or Russian. The conference is planned as a face-to-face event, but we will also have separate Zoom panels for those participants who will not be able to come to Tyumen.
Serguei Oushakine (Princeton)
Galina Orlova (HSE University)
Mikhail Timofeev (Ivanovo State University)
Elena Kochetkova (HSE University)
Alexey Golubev (University of Houston)
Alexander Fokin (Tyumen State University)
The conference is supported with grants from the Government of Russia and Russian Science Foundation