Dr. Juliane Fürst

Feeling Change: An Emotional History of Perestroika

image credits


The way in which most people either experienced or remember Perestroika is rarely anchored on specific events or infused by one coherent political idea but instead saturated with emotions. These emotions are visible not only in oral testimony but also in the many independent publications that appeared in the Soviet public sphere in the late 1980s and the television talk shows that mushroomed alongside them. Emotions spill out from the visual, audio and haptic evidence that relates to life beyond big politics. Emotions are invoked and displayed in interviews and ego-documents about people's experiences in Perestroika. Emotions are used to condemn and justify Perestroika. Emotions serve as the trajectory along which memories are constructed and recalled.

This project aims to identify and make sense of the many emotional tropes that rose to prominence during Perestroika – hope, trauma, disappointment, anger, melancholy, hate and more – both with reference to the usage of them as concepts invoked by and in public and in their function as rallying points for emotional communities.

I aim to look at the usage of emotional terminology in circulation and define and analyse some of the emotional communities that were formed in those years. Case studies will pay particular attention to those regions that are usually overlooked when discussing Perestroika and pay attention to communities that were formed not only around politics but around questions of sexuality, beauty, ethics, superstition and violence. Perestroika will be understood as a long process, lasting the better part of both the 1980s and 1990s and stretching back into the late Soviet period as well as foreshadowing the Putin years.



Go back