11–12th April 2022

Jesus College, Cambridge

11–12th April 2022
Jesus College
University of Cambridge, UK

Arrow Down


The aim of this conference is to explore how a turn towards materiality can enrich our understanding of the Soviet cultural landscape. We invite proposals that consider material and objects, their journeys through time and space, their processes of making and re-making, and how those perspectives might uncover alternative modernisms, defamiliarise Sovietness, and explore the diversity of Soviet experiences and identities.

We expect that this theme will stimulate conversations between scholars working in a variety of different disciplines — including history, literary studies, the history of art and architecture, and anthropology — making this an interdisciplinary and methodologically-focused conference.


While there has been substantial interest in Soviet material culture over the last 20 years, there is, to-date, no coherent handbook on the material turn in Soviet studies. There remains much to be done in terms of analysing how materials powerfully shaped Soviet subjectivities and activities. What theoretical thinking around materials emerged from the ideological context of “actually existing socialism”? How might these theories echo or diverge from Western or capitalist traditions of matter and objecthood? Soviet Materialities conference will serve as the starting point for compiling an edited volume on this topic.

Golubev 2.jpg

Assistant Professor of Russian History and Digital Humanities

University of Houston


Professor of Transnational and Modern European History

Durham University


Visiting Professor at the Institute for Art and Cultural Studies

University of Copenhagen

Arthur Andersen Teaching and Research Professor

Northwestern University

oushakine 3.jpg

Professor of Anthropology and Slavic Languages and Literatures

Princeton University



The conference will feature a methodologies masterclass in which senior scholars from the fields of art history, anthropology, and Slavic studies will explore approaches to the study of material culture and the history of materiality, stimulating methodological questions about how scholars of the Soviet past engage with sources, interlocutors, and archival materials


Soviet Materialities will be hosted over two days, 11–12th April 2022, at the University of Cambridge and supported by a grant from CEELBAS. The working language of the conference will be English.


This will be a hybrid event and we will provide remote, free access to the conference proceedings. We look forward to welcoming speakers and audience members, online or in person, in April.



​Mollie Arbuthnot

Junior Research Fellow, Jesus College, University of Cambridge

Christianna Bonin

Assistant Professor, American University of Sharjah

Gabriella A. Ferrari

PhD candidate, Princeton University

Thomas Drew

PhD candidate, University of Manchester

Tadeusz Wojtych

PhD candidate, University of Cambridge

In association with:



Contact Us

Thanks for submitting!