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£199,000 for research on 'Dropping out of Socialism'

Moscow hippies, 1980

Moscow hippies, 1980

25 February 2011

Dr Juliane Fürst and Dr Josie McLellan from the School of Humanities' Department of Historical Studies have been awarded £199,269 from the AHRC for a research project that will explore the countercultures of late state socialism.

The project, entitled 'Dropping out of Socialism: Alternative Life-Styles in the Socialist Bloc 1960-1990' begins on 1 August 2011 and runs for three years.

It will document and examine the cultures of beatniks, hippies, punks, hobos and others who ignored rather than complied with the official socialist code of behaviour and participation.  While marginalised in the rigid systems of the Soviet bloc, these countercultures exerted nonetheless a significant influence on mainstream society.  Their thoughts and actions not only demonstrate the plurality of voices existing in societies that too often are judged as monolithic and atomised but also highlight the limits of state control in later socialism, thus contributing to the question of why these regimes proved so fragile in the later 1980s.

The grant will fund two PhD studentships, travel costs, an international conference and a major online resource.  Outputs will include a book, journal articles and a special edition of a journal.

Dr Juliane Fürst studies aspects of the social and cultural history of the Soviet Union.  Her first book Stalin’s Last Generation: Soviet Youth and the Emergence of Mature Socialism (OUP, 2010) looks at Soviet youth and youth cultures in the first decade after the Second World War and argues that the Soviet Union, like its Western European neighbours, experienced a shift from collective youth identities based on shared ideological convictions to a youth culture characterised by consumption and increasing fragmentation.  She has recently completed a project on 1968 in the Soviet Union which inspired her interest in the Soviet hippy community.

Dr Josie McLellan’s work combines archival material, interviews, photographs, and memoirs in a new approach to the social history of communism.  Her first book, Antifascism and Memory in East Germany, examined the commemoration of the International Brigades and her forthcoming work Love in the Time of Communism explores everyday life under socialism, asking whether it was possible to fall in love (or in lust) without interference from the East German state. 

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