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Pictures of Villagers in Motion: Technologies of Rural Mobility and Self-Imagination after Stalin

Sun, November 8, 10:00 to 11:30am, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 2

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

As historians continue to think beyond stagnation as a frame of analysis for the latter decades of the Soviet period, a focus on the village is proving to be a particularly compelling vantage. State and collective farms were consolidated and enlarged, their central farmsteads developed rudimentary urban characteristics, and their youth ventured increasingly to local cities. Consequently, the Soviet village became increasingly intertwined with a common Soviet modernity, and villagers themselves were on the move, in space and time alike. Benefitting from the state’s significant investment in personal and public transportation, villagers were able – despite recurrent technological and logistical limitations – to traverse greater spaces both within and beyond the village and to produce and consume in ways more in line with other citizens. In doing so, rural citizens were forced to recurrently and continuously manage the frictions between the imagined and the actually existing. In creatively engaging the semiotic framework of modern Soviet life within its many practical constraints, villagers also produced themselves, and, in the case of amateur filmmaking, captured this production on film. Treating bicycling, bus-riding, and filmmaking, this panel asks where late-Soviet villagers were and imagined themselves to be going, in the narrowest and broadest senses.

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