Socialisms and Postsocialisms in a Global Context forum

Hilary 2020 / 5 Feb & 4 Mar, Convened by Dace Dzenovska & Nicolette Makovicky

COMPAS Boardroom, 58 Banbury Road, Oxford

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We are very pleased to announce the schedule of the Socialisms and Postsocialisms in a Global Context “work-in-progress” forum for Hilary 2020.

Socialisms and Postsocialisms in a Global Context is a forum for sharing and discussing work with colleagues working on resonant themes. It is also a shared space for intellectual conversation about the contributions the studies of socialism and postsocialism can make in and across different disciplines – anthropology, history, socio-legal studies, sociology, political science and international relations. We are particularly interested in thinking about what insights derived from studies of socialism and postsocialism can offer with regard to understanding the current historical moment.

We do not consider socialism and postsocialism to be a geographically delimited area of inquiry, but understand it as global and diverse phenomenon and therefore invite participation of faculty and students across disciplinary and regional expertise. We particularly welcome advanced DPhil students who want to share their research and ideas in a constructive and supportive environment. The group is convened through a collaboration between faculty members affiliated with the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies and the School Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, but is open to all interested faculty and graduate students. Information about upcoming events will be circulated through the RSC and COMPAS mailing lists. If you would like to present your work in future sessions, please send an email to Dace Dzenovska.

Sessions will take place on Wednesdays of Weeks 3 and 7 at 15:30 in the COMPAS Board Room, 58 Banbury Road.

We look forward to an exciting conversation!

Nicolette Makovicky, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA)
Dace Dzenovska, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME)



What is a kraevedcheskie museum? History of the largest (post-) Soviet museum network.

Sofia Gavrilova, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Sofia Gavrilova will present a book proposal based on her recently defended thesis on the history of kraevedcheskie (regional history) museums.  The proposed book is the first monograph fully dedicated to these unique (post) Soviet museums and the specific form of knowledge they represent – kraevedenie. The proposed book covers the Soviet period of centralisation, when the majority of the exposition principles were set, as well as the current life of museums in more than ten regions across Russia. The book examines the main exposition patterns of the museums today and trace their development back to the Soviet period.


Due to planned strike action this WiP will be rescheduled for Trinity Term.

‘But apparently I am not needed’: imagining ‘the state’ in a socialist (mono-)town

Marija Norkunaite, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies

This paper examines three former socialist cities in the Baltics: Visaginas in Lithuania, Sillamäe in Estonia, and Daugavpils in Latvia. Visaginas and Sillamäe are planned socialist towns, built in the Baltics by the Soviet government to develop its nuclear industry. Daugavpils is the second largest city in Latvia, lacking characteristics of a closed mono-town; yet, it served as an important industrial center and transportation hub, subject to intensive Soviet-era industrialization and in-migration. Being vanguard sites of socialism, all three experienced dramatic transformations after the collapse of the Soviet Union, including major economic restructurings, searches for new, post-socialist identity, as well as tensions caused by the specific ethnic composition of their populations.

Due to these reasons, the main question which is usually posed is whether the residents there identify with and are loyal to the state. However, little research has been done as to how the state is understood among the people there, or how these understandings emerge. This paper aims to do exactly this: to deconstruct perceptions of ‘the state’ and statehood in these exceptional social spaces; to look at the state from the perspective of ‘the other’, elucidating how the state is understood by its subjects that are themselves perceived as ‘socialist ruinations’ in a country determinedly breaking away from the old patterns of the communist system.

Grounding my analysis in a comparative case study of the Baltics, this paper aims to shed light on broader processes of changing forms of the state and state-society relationship in the context of both post-Soviet transformation and neoliberal globalization.