This highly original case study, which adopts a material culture perspective, is unprecedented in social and cultural histories of the Soviet period and provides a unique window on social relations. The author demonstrates how Moisei Ginzburg's Constructivist masterpiece, the Narkomfin Communal House, employed classic Marxist understandings of material culture in an effort to overturn capitalist and patriarchal social structures. Through the edifying effects of architectural forms, Ginzburg attempted to induce socialist and feminist-inspired social and gender relations. The author shows how, for the inhabitants, these principles manifested themselves, from taste to hygiene to gender roles, and how individuals variously appropriated architectural space and material culture to cope with the conditions of daily life, from the utopianism of the First Five Year Plan and Stalin's purges to the collapse of the Soviet Union. This book makes a major contribution to: the history of socialism in the Soviet Union and, more generally, Eastern Europe; material culture studies; architectural history; archaeology and social anthropology.
Table of Contents
Revolution and the restructuring of the material world; Soviet hygiene and the battle against dirt and petit-bourgeois consciousness; the Narkomfin Communal House and the material culture of socialism; Stalinism and the domestication of Marxism; the Narkomfin Communal House and Marxist domesticity; de-Stalinization and the reinvigoration of Marxist understandings of the material world; the Narkomfin Communal House and the material culture of de-Stalinization.
Victor Buchli Lecturer,Department of Anthropology, University College London