About the Conference
Tyumen, the program usually starts every year in September
The seventy-four years of Soviet history saw the emergence of a new material culture, and its specific character was determined by a variety of factors.
The conference focuses on the emergence and development of diverse material worlds of Soviet things; the goal is to understand how the environment of Soviet matter - be it industrial infrastructure or everyday objects - influenced the lives and work of Soviet institutions, society, and individuals.
How was the thing-system of the USSR established? Which practices of production, consumption, and exchange were crucial for reproducing and institutionalizing the key elements of this system?
The central questions of the conference
Can we identify historically specific ways of materializing the Soviet way of life? How much did this process emulate the production of material life-worlds in Europe, Asia, or America? What made Soviet things different from their non-Soviet counterparts?
We are interested in understanding how both Soviet things and Soviet producers and consumers were made. How did the Soviet material world overlap with – or 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 help to guide and mediate relations among society, state, institutions, and individuals?
We invite submissions that would address the following themes:
- 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.
Conference organizers will cover accommodation in Tyumen.
There is no conference registration fee. Papers can be presented in English or Russian.
The conference is planned as an in-person event, but we will have separate Zoom panels for those participants who will not be able to come to Tyumen.
The conference is supported with grants from the Government of Russia and the Russian Science Foundation.
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)