Science to Byt: The Urban Landscapes of Knowledge in the Cold War USSR

Lecture format: on site + online.
Room: 2R-EG-07 (lecture hall of the Institute for Eastern European History).
Street address: Spitalgasse 2,  Campus of the University of Vienna, Hof 3.

Following the outbreak of the Cold War, the Soviet political establishment became fascinated with visions of a universal scientific literacy to promote the progress to Communism. A massive organization called the Society for Dissemination of Political and Scientific Knowledge (later renamed into Society 'Knowledge') was established in 1947 for this purpose. The task of producing a universal scientific literacy was, however, impossible without the creation of a large-scale material infrastructure that had to facilitate the flow of knowledge from the educated class to the Soviet public and, in doing so, to reorganize the very byt [the organization of everyday life] of Soviet people. Over the span of forty years, the Soviet mass scientific literacy campaign produced an impressive material infrastructure – partially through its own efforts, partially as part of the anti-religious campaigns of the Soviet leadership, and partially by benefitting from the overall infrastructure development in the Soviet Union. An important part of postwar urban redevelopment, this process shaped the late Soviet city and, in essence, represented a response to one of the most important questions of modernity: how to use the urban environment to produce responsible citizens.

Alexey Golubev is a scholar of Russian history with a focus on social and cultural history of the twentieth century and an additional expertise in STS, transnational history, and digital history. He completed his Ph.D. in history at the University of British Columbia in 2016 and spent a year as a Banting Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Toronto before joining the UH Department of History in fall 2017. During the academic year 2020-21, he served as the Joy Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, where he worked on a project on science communication in socialist and post-socialist societies. Dr. Golubev has previously taught at Petrozavodsk University in Russia and was a visiting lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Freiburg in Germany.

Dr. Golubev is introduced by Prof. Dr. Philipp Ther. Founding director of the Research Center for the History of Transformations.

Registration is requested only from those guests who would like to be connected via Zoom. Please feel free to visit the seminar without registration if you plan to take part live.