As somebody who was born and grew up during the last decades of the Soviet Union and through the 1990s, I like to joke that in material and social terms, life in Russia was so unfixed and changeable that it felt more like fiction than a real-life experience. New consumer objects, foods, fashions, and the practices linked to them came into our lives only to be replaced by others in quick succession. At the same time, what can easily be taken as an ironic reference to a particular historical period of major social transformation in Russia can also be interpreted as a much wider cultural practice of the production of self, which is inextricably linked to and expressed through material culture. Material traces of the Soviet era — including consumer products, clothes, food, school textbooks, arts and cinema, national symbols and souvenirs — which would illustrate my stories are important, not only because they represent the country, society, and culture of my childhood, but because they are also significant in the recon struction of my own sense of self, including memories, attachments, and relationships. In other words, I need to possess certain objects because, first, they embody my own past memories, experiences, and relationships; and, second, they act as important mediators between myself and a wider social group, or between the public and private spheres of my life.
KeywordsMaterial Culture Migration Wave Russian People Cooking Practice National Symbol
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