Late Soviet Village: People, Institutions, and Objects between „Rural“ and „Urban“ Life Styles

31.05. - 02.06.2018, Konferenz, DHI Moskau

The 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 current debate on the texture of late Soviet society – on privatization and diversification of Soviet rituals and symbols on a local level, on self-identifications, on sub-cultures and subversion, on social and ideological cohesion and disintegration - has left the rural population out. Previous research on transformations of late Soviet rural society has reproduced a narrative of decline, described as „de-peasantization” or “erosion of the village“ and “ruralisation of cities”. The aim of the conference which will be held in the German Historical Institute Moscow is to reassess the developments in the rural Soviet Union not merely as a decline and disappearance of “traditional” rural life but as a specific modus of entanglement between the city and the countryside, and as a product of simultaneous “ruralisation” of urban life styles and “urbanisation” of rural life styles. By addressing fundamental issues of late Soviet society from a rural point of view we are opening up a discussion about the revision of the disintegration process attested to Soviet society either by dichotomous conceptualisations of the submissive or indifferent „Homo Sovieticus“ or by performative practices that eroded the sense of ideological commitment. 

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