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Accepted Paper:

No Future for the Archaeologists of Post-Socialism: On a vanishing material culture  
Francisco Martínez (Tampere University)

Paper short abstract:

Remains of the recent past are rapidly disappearing, turning the study of postsocialism into an exercise of accelerated archaeology. By examining the things left behind in vacated apartments as well as items placed aside in Estonian basements we learn about the complex endings of the Soviet social

Paper long abstract:

This paper has a two-fold contribution:

First, it observes the domestic and architectural materiality that has been frozen during the last decades (time capsule like) as a way to comprehend the different practices of discard applied as well as the complex endings of the Soviet social

Second, it elaborates the concepts of ‘architectural taxidermy’ and ‘wasted legacies’ to explain how post-Soviet changes led to a radical reconfiguration of the socio-material conditions in Eastern Estonia, resulting at the discard of socialist material culture – not permitted to simply remain because of being part of a wider process of disqualification.

Postsocialist studies are not a happy genre (Kideckel 2008) and tend to focus on tracing the unmaking of socialist life (Humphrey 2002). The experience itself was underlined by a strange combination of euphoria and loss (Martínez 2018). Based on this, the paper reflects on the heuristic importance of haunting postsocialist traces to not only understand what Communism has done to us (as the usual accounts claim), but also what we have done to the Soviet social and what such leftovers still do to us in the present.

The paper also reflects on the temporality and materiality of postsocialism as a field of study, discussing how the disappearance and abandonment of Soviet material culture is making difficult to understand the transition experience beyond the success story. This leads us to question whether what is actually vanishing is the possibility of learning from the past, since it is the physicality of things that allows future generations to engage with remains.

Panel P086b
(Post)socialism as the post-social II
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -