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7th Annual Aleksanteri Conference
November 29 - December 1, 2007
The Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland



Contact Information
(Not for submissions):

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O.Box 42)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

phone +358-(0)9-191 23631
fax +358-(0)9-191 23615

Aleksanteri Conference <>

Actors and Institutions

One of the most inspiring events of the epoch was the resurgence of grass-roots
political movements and civil society institutions, which brought forth new actors and demands. Which groups or traditions (re)emerged, which survived and which were neglected or ‘written out of history’ during the perestroika era?

Women as a group were among the new social forces to be mobilised. Environmental initiatives made their voices heard. There was also a widespread resurgence in national customs, traditions and national-patriotic sentiment throughout the Soviet bloc that played a decisive role in the collapse of the USSR. Further, previously altogether marginalised or repressed individuals and collectives, such as sexual minorities, various artistic and religious subcultures received public recognition. Even certain categories of those previously branded mentally ill finally received public rehabilitation, and repressive practices in the armed forces, orphanages and the penal system were slated for reform.

However, did practices and customs genuinely see a transformation in all fields of life – from the Kremlin to the kitchen table? Confronted with unemployment and poverty in the later perestroika period, was there not rather a de facto trend towards pre-revolutionary models of gender-relations and families? How was the role of women transformed? In what way was the re-emergence of traditional male role-models related to the catastrophic demise of social justice and equality – one of the corner-stones of Soviet propaganda that seemed to have disappeared off the agenda? What hope was left for political inclusion and egalitarian thought?

As to further social actors, how did the fast-changing developments affect different sectors of industry and social stratification? What was the role and legacy of trade unions, the Komsomol, the nomenclatura and other collective actors? How did workers experience and evaluate the demise of the ‘proletarian state’? What changes were wrought in the daily life of ordinary citizens?

In the cultural realm, which artistic groups took the initiative in the perestroika era, and why did they gain ascendancy? Did various “parallel” and “underground” intelligentsia cultures cease to exist? What were the new discourses, sensibilities and institutions engaged by the arts and popular culture?

Generations, Retrospectives and Perspectives>>