ASEES, 2020

Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller organized the panel „Late Soviet Village II: Things and infrastructures between rural and urban“ during in the 52nd Annual Convention of ASEES 2020.

Panel: Late Soviet Village II: Things and Infrastructures between Rural and Urban

Sunday, November 8, 2020, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 2

Chair: Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller, U of Zurich

Papers: Tyler Adkins, Princeton U: A Good Barrel is Hard to Find: Infrastructures of Fermentation in a Siberian Village
Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller, U of Zurich: Berries in Trade for a Tape Recorder: Fartsovka between the City and the Village
Alla Bolotova, Aleksanteri Institute, U of Helsinki Soviet Mining Villages and Their Afterlife: From Rural to Urban and Back

Discussiant: Alexey Golubev, U of Houston

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

Panel Description

Dynamics of rural society during the last Soviet decades have hitherto been largely neglected, yet they are crucial for understanding the late Soviet Union. The aim of the panel is to look at the fabric of Late Soviet society beyond traditional models of social space organization (private vs official), familiar conceptualization of politics (they vs us), or the usual schemes of ideological participation (cynicism vs sincerity), through the lense of things and infrastructures that allow for, encourage people to act, e.g. produce “performative reorganization” of space and/or narrative (Butler and Atanasiou).

Tyler Adkins will focus on the social effects of fermentation equipment in the villages of the Altai Mountains and elaborate on how the infrastructure of dairy fermentation transgresses the binaries of domestic and non-domestic work and redefines social and economic boundaries of the household itself.
Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller will discuss the contingency of late Soviet rurality/urbanity by focusing on rural fartsovka and the vibrancy of berries as actants in those networks.
Alla Bolotova’s paper will address the boundaries between rural and urban by focusing on mining villages in the Soviet Arctic (Murmansk region) and its residents’ sense of place.
Anna Sokolova will analyze the consequences of Stalinist environmentalism in late Soviet Karelian timber industry settlements and the modes of rearrangement of infrastructural gaps and frictions by various actors.

Abstract „Berries in Trade for a Tape Recorder: Fartsovka between the City and the Village“

Late Soviet practice of fartsovka has been known as urban phenomenon yet it was a part of rural-urban continuum too. By discussing the trips of young musicians from the closed city of Severodvinsk to rural settlements of the Arkhangelsk region in order to trade berries and mushrooms in exchange for much demanded Western goods such as tape recorders made in Japan or down jackets made in Finland, I will argue that in the process the vibrancy of berries and other forest products affected the whole assemblage of actants and reshaped everyday practices. Actors engaged in the practice of village fartsovka experienced moments of situational rurality/urbanity that was symptomatic for the late Soviet period.

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