Nurturing obedient subjects? Exemplary Soviet pioneer camps Artek and Orlyonok and its' transformations during the Soviet era
Projects to recover the "body and soul" of children through the organization of children's collective outdoor recreation in the 20th century were popular around the globe. Their researchers note that each of them not only addressed health amendment issues but was also associated with the to develop citizenship skills and strong patriotic identity. The Soviet Union was no exception to this trend. The first children’s camps for spending summer holiday appeared in the Soviet Union at the dawn of Soviet power and were conceived by the Soviet ideologists as a place were a responsible Soviet subject would be formed. During the Soviet era, the type of person needs to be raised was constantly changed, influencing the everyday life of the pioneer camps. At the same time, the actors of the changes were not only officials from the Central Committee of the Komsomol, but also ordinary educators. The focus of my presentation will be on the transformations of two exemplary camps in the USSR, Artek (1925) and Orlyonok (1959), and in particular — the preconditions and consequences of the shift, that occurred with the All-Union pioneer camps during the Thaw under the influence of the new ideology of «socialism with a human face,» based on such categories as spontaneous activity and individual initiative.
Until the late 1950s, Artek, like other Soviet southern resorts, were fulfilling преимущественно recreational and healthcare functions and served as a famous illustration of Soviet proclamations of the Party's concern for children. Retaining the structure of the medical institution, which imposes significant restrictions on the attendee’s agency, Artek (and his new twin-brother in the Caucasus — Orlyonok received at the end of the 1950s the mission to educate activists — initiative pioneers selected from all over the Union who would organize the public life in their school groups after their return from the All-Union camp. As a result, there is a tension between the inherited social order of the healthcare institution and the new ideological aims. Turning to analysis of archive internal documentation of the All-Union camps for activists Artek and Orlyonok, as well as interviews with their former employees, I would like to consider how the camp counselors developed new technologies of upbringing active soviet subject (making the transition from rigid tools of vertical supervision to soft horizontal behavior management, such as play, discussions, humor) and how the Thaw era shift influenced its staff strategies of self-presentation in the late Soviet and post Soviet era.
Anna Kozlova is a junior research fellow of the Center for Applied Research at the European University at Saint-Petersburg. She graduated from the Ph.D. program of the Department of Anthropology (EUSP) in summer 2019, and is completing her thesis in the YRUSH programme at the Aleksanteri Institute.