Soviet Communal Living: An Oral History of the Kommunalka by P. MessanaSoviet Communal Living: An Oral History of the Kommunalka by P. Messana

Soviet Communal Living: An Oral History of the Kommunalka

byP. Messana

Hardcover | February 22, 2011

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This book brings together fascinating testimonies from thirty inhabitants of the “Kommunalka,” the communal apartments that were a common feature of Russian cities during the Soviet era. Beginning in 1920, multiple Russian families--purposefully selected from different social classes--were relocated and crammed together into single apartments. The intent was not simply to level out class differences, but also to create spy networks within homes and extend the government’s surveillance and control over citizens. Possibly the most important social experiment undertaken by the Soviet regime, the Kommunalka arguably had as much as if not more of an effect on the experiences of inhabitants than external political realities. Soviet Communal Living offers a fascinating glimpse into the circumstances that defined daily life for millions of citizens during the seven decades of communist rule--and, in some cases, long after.
Paola Messana is the New York Bureau Chief of Agence France-Presse, and the agency’s former Moscow Bureau Chief. She holds degrees in Russian from the Sorbonne and Political Science from the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
Title:Soviet Communal Living: An Oral History of the KommunalkaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 9.02 × 5.98 × 0 inPublished:February 22, 2011Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230110169

ISBN - 13:9780230110168


Table of Contents

“Uplotnienie” : Filling up * White Army, Red Army * The visit to Lenin * Like Life In Naples * I, Princess Galitzine, a tenant in a communal apartment * In times of hardship you have to make the best of things * The Black Crow * Even the Baltics * The Leningrad blockade * The denunciation * Summer 1948 * The ambulance, the dead, the blind, the nun and the others * The American legacy * Jewish poison in the pots * The Letter * New Year's Eve celebration * Tiotia Grusha, or how thirty people can share an apartment * The Gulag and the Roslovian smell * The Soldier's Ballad * Lenins, nothing but Lenins * Dissidence * The Passageway Room * The Prostitute * The French Lover * Masha L. and the Spirit of the Kommunalka * The Englishwoman and the Dealer * An Officer in the Strategic Nuclear Forces * From Putsch to putsch * Seventeen years after the fall of the USSR, a happy Ukrainian * Two sisters through history

Editorial Reviews

“Thanks to the many testimonies that have been collected on the Nazi era, we have a sense of what life was like for ordinary people in Hitler’s Germany, but until now very little has been available on what life was like for ordinary people in the Soviet system. Paola Messana has had a stroke of genius in gathering oral histories focused on the bittersweet experience that almost the entire Soviet population had of living in communal apartments. This look at a core part of daily life under Bolshevism changes our understanding not only of past Soviet history and culture but also of Russia and Russians today.”--Wesley A. Fisher, Director of Research, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany “This book is both an invaluable new source regarding one of the most important social spaces of Soviet urban life, the communal apartment, and a wonderful collection of authentic voices of the twentieth century.”--Kevin M. F. Platt, Professor, Chairman of the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, the University of Pennsylvania “This book brings to life the formative world--the matrix of urban soviet civilization, hated and, on recollection and reflection, much beloved--of the communal apartment. To understand twentieth-century Russia and those leading this much troubled land into the twenty-first century, the thoughtful western reader needs to read, savor, and imagine the world described in Soviet Communal Living. It does what oral history can do at its best: replicate the spirit, sense, and feeling of a world we have lost but one that informs our humanity.”--Jonathan Sanders, veteran CBS News Moscow Reporter and Professor, Communication and Media Studies Department, Fordham University