Faces of Piatiletka, Portraits of Things, and Flowerbeds of Ethnicities: Training Mental Eyes of Soviet Spectators, with Serguei Oushakine
Faces of Piatiletka, Portraits of Things, and Flowerbeds of Ethnicities: Training Mental Eyes of Soviet Spectators
Until mid-1930s, the iconography of the working class and collective farmers was almost entirely missing. To make up for this absence, when talking about the Soviet Union at large children’s books relied on a very different strategy – they drew the reader’s attention to the depiction of machinery, tools, production process and, at the same time, they trained the reader to recognize visual conventions for representing various Soviet ethnicities.
Serguei Oushakine is Professor of Anthropology and Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University. He has conducted fieldwork in the Siberian part of Russia, as well as in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. His research is concerned with transitional processes and situations: from the formation of newly independent national cultures after the collapse of the Soviet Union to post-traumatic identities and hybrid cultural forms. Currently, he finishes two book-length projects. One of them explores the role of early Soviet media in creating new forms of spectatorship and new optical regimes in the 1920s-1930s in the Soviet Union. The other project focuses on postcolonies of communism, bringing postcommunist and postcolonial studies together. Oushakine’s Russian-language publications include edited volumes on trauma, family, gender and masculinity. He was a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a recipient of the ACLS’ Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship, and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (School of Social Science).
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