Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation

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Princeton University Press, 2006 - History - 331 pages
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Soviet socialism was based on paradoxes that were revealed by the peculiar experience of its collapse. To the people who lived in that system the collapse seemed both completely unexpected and completely unsurprising. At the moment of collapse it suddenly became obvious that Soviet life had always seemed simultaneously eternal and stagnating, vigorous and ailing, bleak and full of promise. Although these characteristics may appear mutually exclusive, in fact they were mutually constitutive. This book explores the paradoxes of Soviet life during the period of "late socialism" (1960s-1980s) through the eyes of the last Soviet generation.

Focusing on the major transformation of the 1950s at the level of discourse, ideology, language, and ritual, Alexei Yurchak traces the emergence of multiple unanticipated meanings, communities, relations, ideals, and pursuits that this transformation subsequently enabled. His historical, anthropological, and linguistic analysis draws on rich ethnographic material from Late Socialism and the post-Soviet period.

The model of Soviet socialism that emerges provides an alternative to binary accounts that describe that system as a dichotomy of official culture and unofficial culture, the state and the people, public self and private self, truth and lie--and ignore the crucial fact that, for many Soviet citizens, the fundamental values, ideals, and realities of socialism were genuinely important, although they routinely transgressed and reinterpreted the norms and rules of the socialist state.


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Review: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation

User Review  - Nils - Goodreads

Just loved this -- a brilliant study of how everyday citizens (as opposed to active supporters or dissidents) cope with living in a decadent dictatorship, through strategies of ignoring the powerful ... Read full review

Review: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation

User Review  - Andrew - Goodreads

Yurchak takes performative theory in an exciting and necessary direction. Stepping away from recent arguments that entangle performative theory with psychoanalysis, Yurchak coins the "performative ... Read full review


Chapter 1
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Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

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About the author (2006)

Alexei Yurchak is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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