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An Archaeology of Socialism


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Also available in hardback, 9781859732120 GBP50.00 (February, 1999)

Table of Contents

Revolution and the restructuring of the material world; Soviet hygiene and the battle against dirt and petit-bourgeois consciousness; the Narkomfin Communal House and the material culture of socialism; Stalinism and the domestication of Marxism; the Narkomfin Communal House and Marxist domesticity; de-Stalinization and the reinvigoration of Marxist understandings of the material world; the Narkomfin Communal House and the material culture of de-Stalinization.

About the Author

Victor Buchli Lecturer,Department of Anthropology, University College London


'Buchli has admirably countered ... considerable difficulties in a multi-faceted investigative process which could be characterized as an "archaeology of socialism", in a sense reminiscent of Foucault's "Archaeology of Knowledge".' Journal of Design History 'An Archaeology of Socialism is a fascinating and well written book based on the intellectually charming premise that theories of the function of material culture were heavily tested and found wanting by the Russian socialist byt (life-style) reform programs of the last 80 years ... The value of the book lies in the clarity of Buchli's prose as he navigates the choppy seas of postmodern philosophy. In some cases, his explications of theory are more elegant than the writings of the original authors.' American Ethnologist 'There is much of interest here, particularly in the analysis of the Stalin period.' Slavonica 'While Buchli has much to say about wallpaper, the types and uses of furniture available to inhabitants, and other seemingly minute 'artefacts' of Soviet life, he is really after a much bigger game. His monograph charts the distinct ways in which individuals and families endeavoured to alter and adapt their living spaces, and how these interventions related to the changing nature of official ideology. As such, he has much to say about that fundamental issue of freedom and the private sphere, as it relates to material culture.' Journal of Contemporary History '[The book] deserves to be read.Buchli has a good eye for all the manifest ironies, discontinuities and just plain ambiguities of material culture, and his (deservedly) sceptical attitude to much of what passes in social anthropology and archaeology for 'material culture' is quite refreshing.' The Australian Journal of Anthropology 'A much-needed microcosmic study of Soviet socialism.' SEER 'A major contribution to a general understanding of how people relate to their material culture.' Cambridge Archaeological Journal

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