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Title: A Noah's Ark: Material Life and the Foundations of Soviet Governance, 1916-1922
Authors: O'Donnell, Anne
Advisors: Kotkin, Stephen
Pravilova, Ekaterina
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: inventory
Subjects: Russian history
European history
Economic history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Where most histories of governance, market life, and economic culture look at how markets are built, this dissertation investigates instead how they are dismantled; it asks how the Bolsheviks attempted to dismantle market life in revolutionary Russia during and after the October Revolution. The Revolution signaled a rupture in economic and material life no less than in politics and ideas, meaning that the transformation of Russian state structures occurred simultaneously with attempts to form a non-market economy. It was through the dismantling of the market, through confiscation, inventorying, and redistributing material possessions, that the Bolshevik state and governing practices were formed. The research presented here investigates the lived experience of socialist revolution in Russia between 1916 and 1922 through the prism of material things. In the weeks and months after the Bolsheviks seized power, they declared themselves, and the dissolving state they inherited from the Imperial regime, to be the rulers not only of the land and the people, but also of a dazzling array of material objects. Through case studies of particular objects such as buildings, movable goods, valuables, and money, the chapters that follow illuminate the cultivation of new categories of economic life and new tools for managing them in the crucible of revolutionary practice, to reveal the interplay of the multiple mentalities at work in the revolutionary era, derived from socialist ideology, the Imperial inheritance, and the basic requirements of governance. The experience of revolution, the dissertation argues, was not simply a field where other, already-existing forces in social and political life played out; it bore a productive capacity in its own right. The experience of socialist revolution left a deep imprint on individuals, interpersonal relationships, and institutions, cleaving to state forms and practices in the sphere of material goods and things.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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