post-soviet societies and ‘repair’

MartinezFrancisco Martínez at Eurozine:

In a way, post-socialist societies are like the clock shop where each clock shows a different time and ticks at a different speed. These differential relations over time and temporal representation organize and perpetuate inequalities. Indeed, repair practices are especially meaningful when the ordering sense of time is vanishing and changes extend social asynchronicity. In a society such as the Estonian one, which is conditioned by multiple disruptions, accelerated changes, inequality and pressure for aimless innovation, repair appears as a practice that establishes continuity, endurance and material sensitivity.

This argument may seem counter-intuitive; the imperative to mend imposed under the Soviet regime contrasted with the subsequent availability of cheap mass-produced goods; post-socialist practices of consumer citizenship seemed to signal the decline of repair. However, contemporary mending and the reluctance to dispose of material possessions can also be a way to resist dispossession and adapt to convoluted changes; the act throwing away is perceived as a threat to memory, to security, and to historical and ecological preservation.

In Estonia, the Soviet experience is often depicted as an unnatural and somehow unreal time. Indeed, 1991 appears as a year of massive obsolescence. Abandoned factories, rusting machinery, decaying buildings, chemically polluted zones, environmental catastrophes and industrial debris have for decades symbolized the collapse of the USSR – the disintegration of the regime in its literal and material sense.

more here.