Soviet History Colloquium with Juliane Furst "Brezhnev's Flower Children: Soviet Hippies and their Life in, despite, and with Stagnation"
This paper explores the life and world of the Soviet hippie movement and in particular the genesis and trajectory of its informal network dubbed sistema. It explores how and why the sistema came about in the conditions of Brezhnev’s stagnation and repressive measures and how it learned to live and adapt to the condition of late socialism. It argues that, while the existence of a Soviet hippie movement per se belies our common perception of what it meant to live during zastoi, the relationship between the sistema, which proved to be very influential in shaping youth culture, and stagnation is a more complicated one and more akin to a symbiosis, in which both sides survive because of the existence of the other.
Juliane Fürst is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Bristol. She is the author of Stalin's Last Generation: Soviet Post-War Youth and the Emergence of Mature Socialism (2010). Her current projects include a large pan-European collaborative project that examines networks and ideas around 1968 and focuses on the transnational and generational aspects of movements existing at the time. A second project pursues a new type of social history, looking at Soviet society through the prism of Soviet train travel.