ASEEES, 2019

Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller presented a part of the project at the 51th Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in San Francisco.

Panel: Peasants as „Poachers“: Trust and Accommodation Between the State and the Village, 1914 to the Present

Saturday, November 23, 2019
Floor 5, Sierra F

Chair: Colleen M Moore, James Madison U

Papers: Alexandre Sumpf, U of Strasburg: Trusting in a Second Chance: The Tactics of the Village Disabled Ex-Servicemen to Negociate Their Sortie de Guerre, 1914-1939
Aaron Benyamin Retish, Wayne State U: Between State and Village: The Court Bureaucracy and the Problems of Representing Soviet Values in the Countryside, 1921-1939
Brandon Schechter, Columbia / NYU: Muzhiki i portianki: The Peasant Soul and Substance of the Red Army, 1941-1945
Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller, U of Zurich: Certificates of Merit (Pochetnye Gramoty) in Late Soviet Rural Communities: Between Performing Materiality of the State and Shaping Beliefs and Subjectivities

Discussiant: Christine Diane Worobec, Northern Illinois U

The panel desciption and abstract below can be found on the homepage of the ASEEES.

Panel description

In the Practice of the Everyday Life, Michel De Certeau made a seminal distinction between institutions‘ „strategies“ determining the everyday life, and consumers‘ „tactics“, i.e. their inventive readings of a monolithic set of norms. This panel aims to explore the practices of Russian/Soviet peasants confronted with state regulation and constraint throughout the XXth century. The diversity of the village populations allowed for simultaneous multiple tactics. Through the wars and the changes imposed on their relationship to the land and work, villagers individually and collectively developed tactics of accommodation that were essential to negociate a partly autonomous everyday life.

Abstract: Certificates of Merit (Pochetnye Gramoty) in Late Soviet Rural Communities: Between Performing Materiality of the State and Shaping Beliefs and Subjectivities

The paper will examine rural subjectivities in the late Soviet period by focusing on villagers’ attitudes towards the state. Instead of following the narrative of the disintegration of late Soviet society and people’s growing disbelief in the state, I will engage a material perspective to transcend the usual doublethink paradigm. The aim of this contribution is to discuss the complexity of the late Soviet experience with its volatile and contingent participation in and distance from the political regime through the lens of Soviet “certificates of merit” (pochetnye gramoty) that were awarded for various kinds of achievements in professional and social life. As “vibrant” things (Bennett) that produce “performative reorganization” of space and narrative (Butler and Atanasiou) and shape relations, affects, or beliefs, those certificates could become powerful actors in people’s relations to the state and shape their attitudes and subjectivities, especially in a face-to-face rural community.

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