Juliane FürstJun 24, 2021
Flowers Through Concrete
Explorations in Soviet Hippieland
Oxford University Press 2021
Flowers Through Concrete: Explorations in Soviet Hippieland (Oxford University Press, 2021) is the first chronological history of Soviet hippies, tracing their beginnings in the 1960s through the movement’s maturity and ritualization in the 1970s. It is also a rich analysis of key aspects of Soviet hippiedom, including ideology, kaif, materiality, and madness - both enacted and imposed. Flowers Through Concrete uncovers, in particular, the lost history of women who participated in the Soviet hippie movement. Fürst makes a number of important arguments in Flowers Through Concrete. Despite obvious antagonisms, she argues that Soviet hippies and late Soviet socialist reality meshed so well that a stable symbiotic, although hostile, relationship emerged. She asserts that personal evidence, such as oral history, is "one of the most exciting historical sources, whose weaknesses sometimes work for rather than against the historian". She engages seriously with and makes visible the role of her own authorial self-reflection in historical analysis. And, last but not least, as Fürst herself says, the story of Soviet hippies is a really good story.
Amanda Jeanne Swain, PhD. Historian. Humanities Center executive director. Navigating academic systems with faculty and grad students.