Politics in Color and Concrete

Politics in Color and Concrete : Socialist Materialities and the Middle Class in Hungary

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Material culture in Eastern Europe under state socialism is remembered as uniformly gray, shabby, and monotonous-the worst of postwar modernist architecture and design. Politics in Color and Concrete revisits this history by exploring domestic space in Hungary from the 1950s through the 1990s and reconstructs the multi-textured and politicized aesthetics of daily life through the objects, spaces, and colors that made up this lived environment. Krisztina Fehervary shows that contemporary standards of living and ideas about normalcy have roots in late socialist consumer culture and are not merely products of postsocialist transitions or neoliberalism. This engaging study decenters conventional perspectives on consumer capitalism, home ownership, and citizenship in the new Europe.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 312 pages
  • 127 x 177.8 x 25.4mm | 340.19g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 44 b&w illus.
  • 0253009944
  • 9780253009944
  • 1,085,386

Table of contents

Introduction: The Qualities of Color and Concrete
1. Normal Life in the Former Socialist City
2. Socialist Realism in the Socialist City
3. Socialist Modern and the Production of Demanding Citizens
4. Socialist Generic and the Branding of the State
5. Organicist Modern and Super-Natural Organicism
6. Unstable Landscapes of Property, Morality and Status
7. The New Family House and the New Middle Class
Conclusion: Heterotopias of the Normal in Private Worlds
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Review quote

[A] serious historical analysis inflected throughout by a sophisticated ethnographic sensibility. . . . [and] an important contribution to the second generation of scholarship on post-socialist Europe.6/4/14 * Reviews and Critical Commentary * Fehervary's book . . . joins a growing body of recent studies of consumption and everyday materialities under socialism. Few, however, so creatively explore socialist consumption's aesthetic and affective dimensions or trace continuities in consumer subjectivities across the pre-/post-1989 divide. * American Historical Review * Fehervary breaks new ground in a field that has only recently received scholarly attention in Western academia. * Hungarian Cultural Studies * Politics in Color and Concrete is a model for richly historical ethnography and an important contribution to the second generation of scholarship on post-socialist Europe. . . . [It]will be of great interest to scholars of socialism and post-socialism, class, consumer culture, and aesthetics alike. * Council for European Studies * Politics in Color and Concrete is one of the best ethnographies of artificial things-and Hungary, Eastern Europe, post-socialism, and materiality-currently available. * American Ethnologist * Politics in Color and Concrete is mandatory reading for all scholars of Communism in Eastern Europe. * Austrian History yearbook * Fehervary's exemplary scholarship, both historical and ethnographic, takes us through both socialist modernism and post-socialist consumer modernism in the development of contemporary Hungary. -- Daniel Miller * MaterialWorldblog.com * There is much to admire about this book. . . I appreciated Fehervary's critical insights into topics as diverse as gendered personhood, folklorization, and Janos Kornai's economic models.73.3 Fall 2014 * Slavic Review * Politics in Color and Concrete is an eloquent analysis of the material transformations of domestic space during the four decades of socialism and the following political-economic transformation in Hungary. . . . Fehervary's approach not only brings a fresh look at the period through its focus on everyday materialities but also offers a welcome correction to the often-simplified understandings of abrupt socialist-capitalist change. * American Anthropologist *
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About Krisztina Fehervary

Krisztina Fehervary is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.
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