Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe

Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe

Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe

Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe

Synopsis

This title reveals the complex world of consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe, exploring the ways people shopped, ate, drank, smoked, cooked, acquired, assessed and exchanged goods.

Excerpt

Today, if you pass through Krakow as a tourist, you can forgo the lively cafes and standard historic sites in favor of revisiting “communism”— an experience that can be booked online before you leave home. Your tour of communism, set against the cityscape of Krakow, can be standard or luxury, depending on your budget; or, as the tour website cheekily admits, “All of our customers are equal, but some are more equal than others.” The deluxe package includes a four-hour tour that showcases not the world of communist elites but that of ordinary communist citizens in Poland. Chauffeured around in a vintage Trabant (the ubiquitous car of the Eastern Bloc), clients can be picked up at the airport by a “typical Polish worker,” stop for refreshments at a “communist-style restaurant,” and finish up in a “communist apartment,” where time seemingly stands still. The tour would not be complete, notes the website, without a side trip to “Stalin’s gift to Krakow,” the industrialized communist mecca known as Nowa Huta. To the uninitiated, the tour sounds like good fun; to insiders, subtle jokes abound as does the nostalgic fetishization of the not-so-distant past. With customers paying for a “taste of everyday life in Poland during the 1970s,” the commodification of communism itself is the ultimate irony. It is food and drink, cars and houses—all manner of consumables—that recall the communist past, a past that is experienced through the senses and sensibilities of the consumer.

It might be surprising that this face of the communist past, so often associated with poor quality and scarcity, could tantalize. Yet with its many wrinkles and saws, the consumer experience under communism continues to attract the attention of locals, tourists, and scholars on the region. Consumption in communist Eastern Europe followed its own rhythm and logic. In other words, consumer experiments and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.