The Soviet Otherwise: Affects, Margins, and Imaginaries in the Late Soviet Era

The Soviet Otherwise: Affects, Margins, and Imaginaries in the Late Soviet Era

Course dates:
26 July, 2019 to 2 August, 2019
No course fee
Social Sciences
Application deadline:
Tuesday, 30 April, 2019
Tallinn University
Tallinn, Estonia

General information

Tallinn Summer School invites students to Estonia to study cultural-historical processes in the late Soviet Union and to study them “otherwise” – by way of less travelled paths for researching the period from the mid-1950s to the 1990s.

The years after Stalinism and before perestroika have been labelled in various ways – as “thaw” and “stagnation”, as “really existing”, as “mature” or “late” socialism. While studies of the Soviet era have generally moved on from totalitarian and revisionist paradigms towards more complex analytical approaches, the social and cultural complexities and pluralities of the period call for constant innovation in understanding the period. Indeed, the controversies, contingencies and legacies of the last decades of the USSR have resisted a simple overarching theory. Recent interest in the postwar processes of modernization in the West, concern with the prehistories of deregulation and globalisation, but also the ongoing events in Ukraine and the world, and the rise of right-wing movements — all these give us new comparative contexts for revisiting and studying the diverse histories of the Soviet Union.

At the 2019 Tallinn Summer School, we aim to bring together leading scholars and PhD students who are interested in discussing and studying the Soviet otherwise and considering some of its continuing ramifications in the post-Soviet era. We propose to consider the Soviet “otherwise” in at least two ways. First, we invite students to touch upon the unspeakable, silenced, and marginalized in late Soviet society: people, deeds, and thoughts, but also feelings, moods and sensations that caused cultural discomfort or embarrassment, or were taken as insignificant, trivial, or too intimate for inclusion in the sphere of open social discourse. Second, we invite students to explore research methodologies that are still new or little explored in the context of Soviet studies. We look for research agendas that pursue dialogue with various strands of critical theory, including (but not limited to) affect studies, postcolonial studies, new materialism, gender and queer studies. The main focus of the summer school will be on the late Soviet period, but we also welcome approaches to the post-Soviet era that are interested in continuities between the late and the post.


Tallinn Summer School arranges accommodation for foreign participants at student dormitory (5-minutes walk from the university, double and triple rooms). 


Online registration form on the website 

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