This discussion of the concepts and everyday practices associated with domestic life in 'the city on the Neva' draws on work that I am carrying out for a large-scale study of memory and local identity in St. I am also grateful to my colleagues on the project, particularly Albert Baiburin and Andy Byford, for stimulating discussions, and to Alexander Bikbov and two of Laboratorium's anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts. It started to become important as part of the mid-1930s drive to emphasise to Soviet citizens that the Revolution had also brought them prosperity in a material sense. There is a large secondary literature dealing with this subject: see e.g. In the olden days, when someone fetched up in a town or city they didn't know, they felt lonely and lost. 10 For example, the area around the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory in Leningrad or along prospekt Marksa (Marx Prospect) on Vyborg Side included handsomely-appointed blocks that were used to house skilled workers as well as engineers and other 'specialists'. Epic Revisionism: Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda. 11 For excellent general studies of the housing progamme, see Harris 2003; Smith 2010. 5 In Soviet families, it was common for entire areas of past life to be shrouded in silence, not just because of anxiety that these might be politically unacceptable (cf. the extensive discussion of 'spoilt biographies' in Figes 2007), but because the general culture was so strongly focused on the present and future, thus making the experience of previous generations seem irrelevant.
On the regional revival and the redevelopment of kraevedenie, see, for example, Johnson 2006; Donovan 2011.
It initiated a crash construction programme that aimed to create millions of new homes to an accelerated tempo.11 The minimalist aesthetic endorsed in 1955 was in tune with the return to pre-Stalinist Soviet culture (what the architectural historian Vladimir Papernyi has called ' Culture One' ). A further contradiction is that Soviet citizens were encouraged, indeed exhorted, to spend time and thought on creating uiut (a word that is usually translated as 'cosiness', but which is perhaps the closest Russian equivalent of the English concept of 'home'), while not being given a great deal of practical help in doing this.12 Soviet advice literature and journalism of the period drew readers' attention to the (theoretical) availability of consumer goods for the home, yet in the deficit economy, as we shall see, acquiring these desiderata was often a challenging process.13 The cognitive dissonances of late Soviet culture were directly recognised in texts from the period.
As the script of El'dar Riazanov's hugely popular 1975 film comedy, The Irony of Fate, written by the director and Emil' Braginskii, put it: 8 Edmonds gives a first-hand account of visiting a factory turning out such building units in Leningrad (19-41).
The relationship with what has been termed the 'usable past' in the Stalin era was relatively straightforward. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984.
There was a rigidly controlled canon of acceptable historical figures and phenomena, those which could be represented as peredovye, 'forward-looking', which is to say, in some respect prefiguring the ideological concerns of Soviet culture itself.6 The post-Stalin years, particularly in the misleadingly named 'era of stagnation' under Leonid Brezhnev, saw two contradictory processes at work.
9 Information from the former head of a studio at Lenproekt, who himself moved into designing functional buildings, e.g. Reinventing Russia: Russian Nationalism and the Soviet State, 1953-1991.