FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Antropologicheskij forum, 2018, no. 38

 

MODERNITY UNPLUGGED: THE FAILURE OF PUBLIC UTILITIES IN THE SENSORY LANDSCAPE OF THE NORTHERN TOWN

Asya Karaseva
European University at St Petersburg
6/1А Gagarinskaya Str., St Petersburg, Russia
University of Tyumen
6 Volodarskogo Str., Tyumen, Russia
akarasyova()eu.spb.ru

Abstract: The paper focuses on the large-scale disruption of public utilities in the winter of 1993–1994 in one of the industrial towns of the Magadan region (Russia), called razmorozka (lit. defrosting). Due to a series of accidents at the central boiler station, most of the inhabitants were left without hot and cold water, as well as sewage and wastewater disposal, for a period ranging from a few months to a year. The electricity supply also was unstable due to a cascading effect. Using the approach of Michael Taussig and C. Nadya Seremetakis, I analyze the transformation of the modern nervous system of a newly disrupted sensory landscape, in which the ability to determine relevant sensory information has been heavily affected. I also consider the interpretations of this experience by the town’s inhabitants to reveal socialist modernity as a sensory experience. The sources include publications in the local newspapers of the time and oral history narratives of the post-breakdown everyday life gathered in 2015.

Keywords: modernity, Russia, Magadan region, public utilities, infrastructural failure, sensory landscape.

Acknowledgements: The paper is prepared due to author’s participation in the research project “Russian Harbors of Transarctic Route: Space and Societies of Russia’s ArcticCoast on the Eve of a New Period in the History of Northern Sea Route” (grant of Russian Ministry for Education and Science).

To cite: Karaseva А., ‘Razomknutaya modernost: kommunalnaya avariya v sensornom landshafte severnogo poselka gorodskogo tipa’ [Modernity Unplugged: The Failure of Public Utilities in the Sensory Landscape of the NorthernTown], Antropologicheskij forum, 2018, no. 38, pp. 122–146.

doi: 10.31250/1815-8870-2018-14-38-122-146

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/038/karaseva.pdf