In the face of disapproval and repression Soviet hippies created a version of Western counterculture, skilfully adapting to, manipulating, and shaping their late socialist environment. Flowers through Concrete explores their lives, thoughts, and political sway.
- Contributes important and previously undocumented knowledge of the Soviet Union in the 1970s
- Includes hundreds of interviews with contemporary sources
- Examines the many features of post-socialist counterculture life to argue that they have their origin in late socialism
- Offers a rare insight into the inner workings of the Soviet underground
About the Author(s)
Juliane Fürst, Head of Department of Communism and Society, Leibniz Centre of Contemporary History (ZZF), Potsdam
Juliane Fürst co-heads the Department of Communism and Society at the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in Potsdam. She is the author of Stalin's Last Generation: Soviet Post-War Youth and the Emergence of Mature Socialism (2010) and co-editor of the Cambridge History of Communism (2017) and Dropping out of Socialism: Alternative Cultures and Lifestyles in the Soviet Bloc (2016).
"In Flowers Through the Concrete Julianne Fürst has provided us with nothing less than an alternative history of the late Soviet Union. This in itself is a tremendous achievement." - Alexandra Oberländer
"In her meticulously researched book, Juliane Fürst offers a superb analysis of this unexpected community of people who were differently Soviet and alternatively socialist. This is a game-changing book in the studies of Soviet socialism. Personal, riveting, and illuminating, Flowers through Concrete unpacks the complexity of late Soviet culture, powerfully shattering well-engrained stereotypes and simplified assumptions about Soviet people and their lives. The Soviet hippies never wrote their own history; Juliane Furst did an excellent job on their behalf." - Professor Serguei Oushakine, Princeton University
"Beneath its façade of gray conformity, late Soviet socialism turns out to have been a prodigious incubator of countercultures. Juliane Fürst is the ideal guide to what she calls "nonaligned behaviors," taking readers on a fascinating journey into the little-known world of Soviet hippies. Full of unexpected characters and insights, this wide-ranging, deeply researched, and beautifully illustrated book opens up new terrain in Soviet history and the global history of youth movements." - Professor Benjamin Nathans, University of Pennsylvania
"In this exquisitely written and engagingly visual book, Julianne Fürst opens to us the myriad ways in which self-identified hippies, like "unruly children," exasperated, repudiated, and critiqued late Soviet culture while relying upon and subtly engaging its substance. From music to madness to materiality, Fürst brings Soviet hippies to life within the flux and paradox of the last decades of the USSR. Her interpretation of her 134 interviews, sensitively gathered and delicately inferred, show the illuminating possibilities of oral history in the hands of a sympathetic and skilled historian. Encompassing trans-Soviet as well as transnational dimensions, the book
is, as the author says, "a really good story" told with self-reflexivity and brilliance." - Professor Marsha Siefert, Central European University
"Juliane Fürst's Flowers through Concrete grapples with the transnational quality of the Soviet hippy movement within the closed borders of the USSR. Fürst does not assume that hippies were voting with their personal life choices either for or against socialism. Rather she shows how hippies' political ideas hardened over time as they became objects of state surveillance, police and medical actions. This book helps us re-think late Soviet culture in fascinating ways." - Professor Kate Brown, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"This is a highly imaginative and wonderfully original study of what happened when flower power collided with Brezhnev-era officialdom, exploring how hippies carved out a space of freedom that many would not have imagined possible, given the repressive and ideological power of the party-state" - Professor Stephen Smith, University of Oxford