From Socialist Modern to Super-Natural Organicism: Cosmological Transformations Through Home Decor: Supplemental Material

This post builds on the research article “From Socialist Modern to Super-Natural Organicism: Cosmological Transformations Through Home Decor,” which was published in the November 2012 issue of the Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cultural Anthropology.

Krisztina Fehérváry, "Dunaújváros panel concrete construction buildings from the 1970s with new OMV gas station in foreground." October 20, 2012.

Author's Publications

2011 "The Materiality of the New Family House: Postsocialist Fad or Middle-class Ideal? City and Society, 23(1): 18-41.

2011 "Polgári Lakáskultúra (Bourgeois Furnishings) and a Postsocialist Middle Class.Journal of Hungarian Studies. 25(2):267-286.

2009 "Goods and States: The Political Logic of State Socialist Material Culture." Comparative Studies in Society and History. 51(2):426-259.

2007 "Hungarian Horoscopes as a Genre of Postsocialist Transformation." Social Identities. 13(5):561-576.

2006 "Innocence Lost: Cinematic Representations of 1960s Consumerism for 1990s Hungary." Anthropology of East Europe Review. 24(2):54-61.

2002 "American Kitchens, Luxury Bathrooms and the Search for a 'Normal' Life in Post-socialist Hungary." Ethnos. 67(3):369-400.

1997 "'My Home is my Castle': the meaning of the family home in an ex-Socialist city" (in Hungarian). Cafe Babel (Budapest): (3)137-145.

1989 Editor/Translator of The Long Road to Revolution: The Hungarian Gulag 1945-1956. By István Fehérváry. Santa Fe, NM: Prolibertate Publishing.

Krisztina Fehérváry, "Imre Makovecz chapel, with wings and other anthropomorphic features at Siofok, Hungary." October 20, 2012.
Krisztina Fehérváry, "Organicist wall of undulating ochre stone with shrubs and iron lamppost plunked down in the otherwise modernist square in front of a socialist-era department store." October 20, 2012.

Discussion Questions

1) How does Fehérváry define "natural" in this article, and how does this definition relate to the material aspects or qualisigns of socialist products in Hungary?

2) How does this idea of "natural" (or rather "supernatural") contribute to inequality? Is inequality inherent to the idea itself, or is that simply a matter of historical coincidence in Hungary?

3) What is the importance of time in this article, particularly in relation to the idea of project? How does an apartment become representative of a "future past?"

4) How would you describe the different conceptions of personhood embedded in socialist modern and organicist aesthetics? How did changes in perceptions of these styles effect shifts in how Hungarians understood each other?

Krisztina Fehérváry, "From a feature entitled “Happy Panel” (“Vidám Panel”), in the home décor magazines Ter és Rend 1996, v. 18 (3). Note the use of wood and wicker, bright colors, and rounded elements (including mirror with undulating edge in the hallway)." October 20, 2012.
Krisztina Fehérváry, "Single family house in the style of organicist architect Imre Makovecz, with white curved walls, exposed wood beams, and red tile. 1997." October 20, 2012.

Related Readings

Comaroff, John L., and Jean Comaroff 1992 "Homemade Hegemony". In Ethnography and the Historical Imagination. Pp. 265–295. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Drazin, Adam. 2001. "A Man Will Get Furnished: Wood and Domesticity in Urban Romania." In Home Possessions. D. Miller, ed. Pp. 173–199. Oxford: Berg.

Harper, Krista. 2006. Wild Capitalism: Environmental Activists and Post-Socialist Ecology inHungary. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, Columbia University Press.

Humphrey, Caroline. 2005. "Ideology in Infrastructure: Architecture and Soviet Imagination." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (n.s.) 11:39–58.

Manning, Paul, and Anne Meneley. 2008. "Material Objects in Cosmological Worlds: An Introduction." Ethnos 73(3): 285–302.

Schneider, Jane. 1994. "In and Out of Polyester: Desire, Disdain and Global Fibre Competitions." Anthropology Today 10(4):2–10.