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Queuetopia: Second-World Modernity and the Soviet Culture of Allocation

Chapman, Andrew / H (2013) Queuetopia: Second-World Modernity and the Soviet Culture of Allocation. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The social structure of the queue, from its most basic forms as a spontaneous group of people on the street, to the ordered lists of status-based priorities within society, leads to rich discussions on consumption, the behavior of crowds, and everyday life within Soviet society. By viewing how practices such as queuing were encoded in Soviet culture, the dissertation theorizes how everyday life was based on discourses of scarcity and abundance. I contend in my second chapter that second-world modernity was not predicated on the speed and calculation usually associated with modern life. Instead, it stressed a precise social ordering of allocation and a progress defined by the materiality of Soviet life. This notion of modernity operates irrespective of the temporal concerns usually associated with the first-world. In Chapter Three, I discuss how cities themselves served as the ultimate Soviet commodity, allocated to citizens who supported the Soviet project. Central to my analysis is a conceptualization of Soviet subjectivity through the prism of the queue, in which I explore how voices of individual priority operated simultaneously amongst discourses of collectivity. Chapter Four looks at this notion, called ocherednost' (queue priority), which traces how authors expressed their concerns within the very same collective and allocative discourses of queuing. The dissertation also looks at Soviet material culture and what goods meant in a culture of shortage in Chapter Five, titled “Trofeinost' (trophying) and the Phantasmagoria of Everyday Consumption.” It details the fantastic, absurd, and imaginative ways in which Soviet consumer culture was depicted in fiction. Commodities themselves become objects of attention and structural devices in narrative. Finally, the concluding chapter looks at the post-Soviet period and the proclamations of the capitalist world’s so-called “culture of abundance.” Vestiges of queuing in the post-Soviet period continued to exist, even after the connection between consumers and a state-ordered system of allocation collapsed. The legacy of second-world modernity continues to permeate the current landscape; habitual practices become transformed into cultural events and performances, such as queuing flash mobs and board games.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chapman, Andrew /
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPadunov, Vladimirpadunov@pitt.eduPADUNOV
Committee MemberBirnbaum, Daviddjbpitt@pitt.eduDJBPITT
Committee MemberCondee, Nancycondee@pitt.eduCONDEE
Committee MemberHalle, Randallrhalle@pitt.eduRHALLE
Committee MemberRies,
Date: 30 June 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 March 2013
Approval Date: 30 June 2013
Submission Date: 17 April 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 236
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Slavic Languages and Literatures
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Soviet literature, Everyday life, Queuing, Queue, Stagnation era, Modernity
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 18:26
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:11


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