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From Kamchatka to Georgia: The Blue Blouse Movement and Early Soviet Spatial Practice

Crane, Robert (2013) From Kamchatka to Georgia: The Blue Blouse Movement and Early Soviet Spatial Practice. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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The Blue Blouse movement (1923-1933) organized thousands of workers into do-it-yourself variety theatre troupes performing “living newspapers” that consisted of topical sketches, songs, and dances at workers’ clubs across the Soviet Union. At its peak the group claimed more than 7,000 troupes and 100,000 members. At the same time that the movement was active, the Soviet state and its citizens were engaged in the massive project of building a new society reflecting the aims of the Revolution. As Vladimir Paperny has argued, part of this new society was a new spatial organization, one that stressed the horizontal over the vertical, the uniform of the hierarchical, and the collective over the individual.

Relying on David Harvey’s revision of Henri Lefebvre’s spatial theories, this dissertation explores the role of the Blue Blouse movement in the production and reproduction of this new Soviet space, examining the spread of the movement across the material space of the Soviet Union; the production of a discursive space on the pages of Blue Blouse, the movement’s magazine; and the collective imagining of space on the stage during Blue Blouse performances. A detailed discussion of the Blue Blouse movement in Kharkiv, then capital of the Ukrainian SSR, examines the role that place, language, and nationality played in the new Soviet space. The concluding section deals with the displacement of the Blue Blouse from the center of the do-it-yourself theatre movement as its magazine was closed, its lead organizer arrested, and its work discredited. By aggressively promoting geographic and ethnic diversity in its bid to stretch “from Kamchatka to Georgia,” the Blue Blouse enabled participation in a shared spectacle, which imagined a citizenry appropriate to this new state.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcConachie,
Committee MemberFavorini,
Committee MemberGeorge,
Committee MemberPadunov,
Date: 30 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 March 2013
Approval Date: 30 June 2013
Submission Date: 14 April 2013
Release Date: 30 June 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 300
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Blue Blouse; Soviet Theater; Amateur Theater; Kharkiv; Space; Place
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 18:56
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2013 05:15


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