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Accepted Paper:

Post-socialism as the post-social: endpoint and modernity as time in Siberian north  
Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov

Paper short abstract:

When did ‘late socialism’ end? When did post-socialism start? These questions are important for periodisation of Soviet-type societies. How do they look from the point of view of the anthropology of time? What does this temporalisation of state socialism tell us about the histories of the ‘social’?

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I focus on the analytical distinctions of late- and post-socialism in dialogue, and in continuum with Soviet distinctions of ‘before’ and ‘now’. In doing so, my goal is to propose a language of description that may be called ‘post-social history’ of Soviet society. My case in point is ethnography of work in Evenki reindeer brigade that I conducted in 1988. I argue that labour and discipline relations in this brigade reveal a peculiar temporality that includes several endpoints visible in quarrels over how much and how hard reindeer herders were to work, and what was the social (obshestvennaia) significance of their labour itself. If collective farm and reindeer brigade organisation can be considered as ‘modernity as time’ (Ssorin-Chaikov 2017), how did it temporalise work? If labour time was, for Marx, a basis as well as a way to measure ‘definite social relation between men’ that under socialism were to substitute ‘relations between things’ in commodity exchange, what temporal endpoints did this socialist ‘social’ assume in theory and (collective farm) practice? What kind of an ‘end of the social’ was constituted by an empty workplace of a reindeer herder who has gone hunting instead? The ‘social’ here is not as an analytical frame as in Durkheimean anthropology and social history but a Soviet category. I chart how it was assembled and what temporal endpoints it entailed. As labour was the main means of this assemblage, what was assembled when this ‘social’ itself stopped labouring?

Panel Exti11a
Reconsidering an anthropology of endings I
  Session 1 Friday 2 April, 2021, -