At the Institute for the Advanced Study, I am working through the visual and ethnographic materials collected in the framework of the on-going project on family photography and generational memories of socialism in Russia, which I am conducting jointly with Oksana Sarkisova of the Open Society Archives.
Over the course of 2006-2008, we have amassed a sizeable database of photographs currently reserved in family archives across Russia, accompanied by the commentaries that the images have received from the different generations of their owners. We are currently working on several articles and a monograph dedicated to understanding the ways in which the grand events of the Soviet history are refracted through family archives.
What is "Soviet" about Soviet family photography? And what is the role of this popular genre in enabling those who never experienced socialism personally to develop an image of that period, and to relate to it? This study will address photography as a technology of memory, and, more broadly, explore phenomenologically what it means to grapple with an ambivalent past.