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The Things of LifeMateriality in Late Soviet Russia$
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Alexey Golubev

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752889

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752889.001.0001

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Soviet Objects and Socialist Modernity

(p.163) Conclusions
The Things of Life

Alexey Golubev

Cornell University Press

This chapter summarizes the observations pointed out in the book about the materiality of Soviet objects such as stairwells, weightlifting equipment, and television sets. It concludes that these were created by hybrid social creatures whose practices were influenced not only by ideology and language but also by things around them, and as a result, Soviet artifacts have their politics. The chapter describes elemental materialism as a part of the cultural logic of late socialism. It supplied officials and intellectuals with persistent and routinely reproduced metaphors that assessed people through their mastery of professional equipment, consumption practices, and hobbies. It also influenced the social topography of late socialism. The chapter talks about soviet objects and spaces, and how they interfered in the processes of subjectivation by suggesting forms of selfhood that fell out of the civilizing frameworks of the Soviet enlightenment project. It discusses soviet materiality and how it acquired its historical agency through the bodies of people who were fascinated with various material objects of late socialism and for whom these objects were instrumental in suggesting and objectifying their individual and collective selves. Material objects of late socialism encapsulated different and often conflicting visions of the past, present, and future, structured the social landscape, and suggested various forms of navigating through it. Examining the ways they did so makes it possible to better understand Soviet society as a complex historical phenomenon.

Keywords:   Soviet objects, Soviet artifacts, Soviet artifacts, elemental materialism, cultural logic, late socialism, social topography, soviet objects, soviet spaces, Soviet society

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