The subject of this review is the book “The Things of Life: Materiality in Late Soviet Russia” written by historian Alexey Golubev. The English translation was published in 2022 as part of the “Library of the Journal Neprikosnovennyy zapas” series by the “New Literary Observer” publishing house. The book comprises six chapters, each delving into a distinct aspect of late-Soviet materiality: “Techno-Utopian Visions of Soviet Intellectuals after Stalin”, “Time in 1:72 Scale: The Plastic Historicity of Soviet Models”, “History in Wood: The Search for Historical Authenticity in North Russia”, “When Spaces of Transit Fail Their Designers: Social Antagonisms of Soviet Stairwells and Streets”, “The Men of Steel: Repairing and Empowering Soviet Bodies with Iron”, and “Ordinary and Paranormal: The Soviet Television Set”. Golubev’s approach emphasizes the significance of materiality in analyzing social history.
This review outlines the primary content of the book and seeks to position it within the discursive realm of contemporary social sciences and humanities. It demonstrates that the book’s relevance extends beyond merely cataloging items produced in the Soviet Union. The work aims to refresh social and cultural research methodologies, and its conceptual innovation offers a critical counterpoint to ideological interpretations of (Soviet) history.
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