From the nostalgic landed estate with its backward gaze to the present-focused and efficient urban apartment to the utopian communal dreams of a Soviet future, the idea of time was deeply embedded in Russian domestic life. I sat down with my mentor, Rebecca Friedman to talk about her new book, Modernity, Domesticity and Temporality in Russia: Time at Home which was published in August, 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing. Dr. Friedman is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab at Florida International University. She is the author of Masculinity, Autocracy, and the Russian University and co-editor for a number of volumes about gender in Russia.
Dr. Friedman is the first to weave together these twin concepts of time and space in relation to Russian culture and, in doing so, this book reveals how the revolutionary domestic experiments reflected a desire by the state and by individuals to control the rapidly changing landscape of modern Russia. Drawing on extensive popular and literary sources, both visual and textual, this fascinating book enables readers to understand the reshaping of Russian space and time as part of a larger revolutionary drive to eradicate, however ambivalently, the 19th-century gentrified sloth in favor of the proficient Soviet comrade. As Modernity, Domesticity and Temporality in Russia explains, amidst such public turmoil Russians turned inwards, embracing and carefully curating the home in an effort to express both personal and national identities.
This was a wonderful and engaging conversation about the past, the present, the future, and the Russian-ness of it all. Enjoy!
Rozzmery Palenzuela Vicente is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at Florida International University. Her dissertation examines the cultural and intellectual politics surrounding black motherhood in twentieth-century Cuba.