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The Making of the 1990s

The Genesis of Post-Soviet Society through Its Material Culture

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Published on Tuesday, February 22, 2022


This interdisciplinary colloquium explores the social dynamics of the 1990s through the period’s changing material culture. Everyday “stuff” was transformed by the disappearance of the Soviet system, the irruption of the market, and the opening to the world. The aim is to investigate the long disintegration of the Soviet system by looking at how populations which are caught in a state of uncertainty react with material inventiveness in order to adapt.



This interdisciplinary colloquium explores the social dynamics of the 1990s through the period’s changing material culture. Everyday “stuff” was transformed by the disappearance of the Soviet system, the irruption of the market, and the opening to the world. The aim is to investigate the long disintegration of the Soviet system by looking at how populations which are caught in a state of uncertainty react with material inventiveness in order to adapt.

The imprint left by people on things inherited from the Soviet past or newly introduced by the economic and political opening of the system generates a human-material interplay. This transforms social relations over time and fulfills a structuring role in societies. The choice of a material approach combines the universe of things (objects, consumer goods, but also real estate and technical infrastructures) with the space of social relations. It also opens a door on the ordinary intimacy of material arrangements that make everyday life “liveable” in unsettled times. The event is planned as a multidisciplinary dialogue between history, sociology, anthropology and economics.


Dear colleagues and students,

We regret to announce the cancellation of the conference "The making of the 1990s. The Emergence of Post-Soviet Society through its Material Culture" which was to be held on March 7-9 on the Condorcet Campus.

On February 24, 2022, Russian troops invaded Ukraine and unleashed a devastating war.

All of us, researchers in the humanities and social sciences, cannot remain indifferent to this drama. We cannot continue our activities in times of war as we did in times of peace. We give up this scientific meeting which was so dear to our hearts in solidarity with our Ukrainian colleagues who were supposed to participate in our colloquium, and who, victims of the Russian army's aggression, cannot be with us. We are also in solidarity with the whole Ukrainian scientific community.

We are convinced that scientific research on the 1990s is more important than ever. The authoritarian and warmongering policy of the Russian government is based on a rewriting of history, which also includes the transformations of the 1990s. More than ever it is necessary to understand the history of this decisive period in all its complexity. Unfortunately, the tragic events that are unfolding before our eyes do not allow us to carry out this reflection at this time.

We have therefore decided to cancel the conference, hoping to resume and continue our work when the time for appeasement has come.

We hope that you will understand,

Yours sincerely

Sophie Lambroschini and Françoise Daucé for the organizing committee of the conference

Monday, March 7, 2022

9h00: Registration and coffee

9h30 – 10h00 : Welcome and Introduction

  • Sophie Lambroschini (CMB/CERCEC) and Françoise Daucé (EHESS-CERCEC)

10h00 – 12h30

Panel I. To Appraise : the Value of Things at the Beginning of the Market

Chair : Isabelle Ohayon (CNRS-CERCEC)

Discussant : Abel Polese (Dublin City University)

  • HERVOUET Ronan, University of Bordeaux/ CEFRES (Prague), The Making of Dignity: Everyday Life and Material Practices in 1990s Belarus
  • RAZOGREEVA Anna, Southern Federal University, Rostov-Don, Things: Returning, Destroying, Transferring to the State (the Material Base of Criminal Stories of the 1990s through the Criminal Cases)  [in Russian]
  • ABIBOK Yuliya, National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Years of barter: Private Practices of Exchange of Goods and Illegal Trade in Ukraine in the Early 1990s
  • ANDRIANOVA Natalia, Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University, Dacha Gardening Communities of the 1990s. The Case of the Suburbs of Frunze (Bishkek)" [in Russian]
  • ATANOVA Snejana, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Science, Inventing Traditions: Material Culture in Central Asia and Meeting the “New Wisigoths” in the 1990s [in French]

Lunch 12h30-13h30

13h30 – 16h00

Panel II. To (re)-Appropriate: Space, Home, and Radio Waves

Chair : Jean-Robert Raviot (University Paris Nanterre)

Discussant : Aurore Chaigneau (University Paris Nanterre)

  • NIKONOROVA Tatiana, Russian State University for the Humanities, The Residential Real Estate Market in Moscow in the 90s: Practices of Everyday Life [in Russian]
  • KALB Lois, European University Institute in Florence, Post-Soviet Urban Commons: Property Change and Everyday Urban Life in the 1990s.
  • STAROSTOVA Lioudmila, Boris Yeltsin Presidential Museum, Ekaterinburg, The Youth Residential Complexes : The Fate of the (Non)Soviet Experiment in the (Post)Soviet World [in Russian]
  • SMITH Kathleen, Georgetown University, “Paradise Lost? Privatization and Secession in Peredelkino”
  • TIKHOMIROVA Anna, EHESS, Listening to Transition: the Material Dynamics of Changing Models in Radio Broadcast from USSR to Russia [In English]

Coffee break

16h30 – 18h00

Keynote: A Social Life of Property: European Borderlands under Fascism, State Socialism, and Neoliberalism

  • Jessica Pisano (New School for Social Research)

Chair : Jan Behrends (Centre for Contemporary History, ZZF)

Tuesday, March 8


Panel III. To Play: Art, Culture and Music

Chair : Gilles Favarel-Garrigues (Sciences Po CERI)

Discussant : Juliane Fürst (Centre for Contemporary History, ZZF)

  • PARET Julien, Post-doc researcher, GrOb Records or Egor Letov’s Conception of DIY: The Weaponization of An Olimp 003 Tape Recorder and the Creation of  Red-Brown Protest in an Underground Recording Studio
  • RABBIA Roberto, King’s College London, Popsa vs. Chernukha: Russian Pop Music as Creator of Positive Images about (Youth’s) Life in the 1990s
  • VDOVCHENKOV Evgenij, Southern Federal University, Rostov-Don, Tolkinism in the 1990s: the Material Aspects of Role Games Movement in Rostov-on-Don [in Russian]
  • CATRIONA Kelly, Oxford Université, Heritage Objects: On Awkward Materiality in 1990s Soviet Culture
  • ZAYTSEVA Anna, University of Toulouse, From exchanged things to the emergence of a milieu: post-Soviet Do It Yourself fanzines in the 1990s

Lunch 12h00 – 13h30

13h30 – 15h30

Panel IV. To Display: Pagers, Typography, and Samodelka.

Chair : Françoise Daucé (EHESS - CERCEC)

Discussant : Jeremy Morris (Aarhus University)

  • MALINOVA Olga, School of Politics and Governance, HSE, Signs of the Times: Things of the 90s in the Exhibits of Russian Museums [in Russian]
  • ABRAMOV Roman, HSE, The Liberated Manager: The Birth of the Westernized Business Person in the Post-Soviet Space in the Early 1990s.
  • MELNICHENKO Boris, EHESS, The Fonts of Change: the Critique of Soviet Typography and the Emergence of New Graphic Standards
  • BARCHUNOVA Tatiana / BLIZNIUK Anastasia, Institute of Philosophy and Law, University of Novosibirsk, Samopal: From Self-provision to Customizing (Novosibirsk case) 

Coffee Break

15h30 – 17h00

Panel V. To Mend: Cars, Clothes, Flats.

Chair : Anne Le Huerou (U. Paris Nanterre)

Discussant : Sergei Oushakine (Princeton University)

  • GORALIK Linor, HSE / Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Vestimentary Upcycling in the Post-Perestroika Era: Between Necessity and Creativity
  • MALAIA Kateryna, Mississippi State University, Drywall and Post-Soviet Identity: Material Culture of Apartment Remodeling in the 1990s
  • Yann Philippe TASTEVIN, Ernesto OROZA, University of Havana / CNRS, The Travels of Two Bolsheviks in a Cuban Limousine [in French]

17h15 – 18h00


  • LAPINA Linda, Roskilde University, Looking for the Smell of Lost Hyacinths (Performance)


Wednesday, March 9

9h30 – 11h00

Panel VI. To Suffer : Communities, Infrastructure, and Slow Violence

Chair : François-Xavier Nérard (University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne)

Discussant : Sophie Lambroschini (CMB / CERCEC)

  • PULFORD Ed, University of Manchester, Anti-Utopianism and Fragmented Histories in the post-90s Russian Far East
  • KOVALEVSKAYA Yulia, Institute of history, archeology and ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Far-East branch, The old Japanese water pipeline as a device of “slow violence” (through the case of the south of Sakhalin island) [in Russian]
  • CURRO Constanza and K’EK’OSHVILI Vakht’ang, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, People, Time and Tea: The End of the Soviet Union in the Labour Colony of Khoni, Georgia

Coffee break

11h15 – 13h00

Panel VII. To Care: Health, Body and the Intimate

Chair : Sofia Tchouikina (University Paris 8)

Discussant : Anna Colin Lebedev (University Paris Nanterre)

  • ORLOVA Galina, HSE, The 1990s in the Mouth: Corporeality, Injustice, and the Management of Tooth Ache after “Punitive Stomatology”
  • CHANTSEVA Victoria, University Sorbonne Paris Nord, Pampers: New “Dangerous Things”? Moral Panics and Urban Legends around the Dissemination of Disposable Diapers in post-Soviet Russia [in French]
  • VASILIEV Pavel, HSE / St. Petersburg, How Mooncup Came to Moscow: Changing Menstrual Habits in Late 20th and Early 21st Century Russia
  • FERRY Maroussia, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies IHEID  / CERCEC, Sold, Used, Degraded. Selling Intimate Objects in Georgia in the 1990s and Beyond [in French]

13h00 Conclusions and Acknowledgements


  • salle 100 - Centre de Colloques, Campus Condorcet
    Aubervilliers, France (93)

Event attendance modalities

Hybrid event (on site and online)


  • Monday, March 07, 2022
  • Tuesday, March 08, 2022
  • Wednesday, March 09, 2022


  • material culture

Information source

  • Elisabeth Kozlowski
    courriel : elisabeth [dot] kozlowski [at] ehess [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The Making of the 1990s », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/18bf

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