Assistant Professor, College of Architecture, Art and Design Mississippi State (USA)
E-Mail: kmalaia [at] caad.msstate.edu
Photo: Mississippi State Univeristy
What happens to domestic spaces, architecture, and everyday lives of urbanites during a socio-economic upheaval? My project Taking the Soviet Union Apart Room by Room: Domestic Architecture Before and After 1991 takes up the crucial question of how people adapt their domestic spaces in response to major social transformations. It does so with the help of object-based ethnographies, interviews, media, and archival materials, and through a series of micro-scale inquiries into domestic practices, such as sleeping and eating. In this project, I identify large-scale shifts in the public/private space dichotomy, patterns of ownership and social representation, as well as the economic qualities of post-communism. I argue that changes in urban domestic spaces and everyday life were central to the collapse of the USSR and the formation of the post-Soviet condition.
Despite the inevitable preservation of the Soviet housing infrastructure, domestic spaces still performed as a crucible for urban residents to transition from Soviet to post-Soviet subjects. Soviet housing policies produced heavily regulated urban households, which had to strictly adhere to the upper limitations of floor area and room numbers per person. After the collapse of the USSR these rules lost power and relevance. Long-anxious for an overhaul, apartment dwellers en masse started modifying their everyday environments. Taking Soviet Union Apart investigates how, in the context of limited housing mobility, remodeling and modifying one’s home formed new lifestyles defined by increased spatial privacy. Furthermore, it explores how remodeled interiors served as a material expression of a social identity above the poverty line, in place of the outdated Soviet signifiers of well-being. By connecting the dots of these themes—home improvement, reinventing oneself, the end of state socialism, and lived experiences of change—this project puts together a relatable, comprehensive, and concrete portrait of the crisis, and of the era.
Kateryna Malaia wird während Ihres Gastaufenthalts am ZZF Potsdam in der Abteilung "Kommunismus und Gesellschaft" im Legacies Projekt forschen/
Kateryna Malaia will conduct research in the department "Communism and Society" in the Legacies Project during her stayy at the ZZF Potsdam.