Making the New Post-Soviet Person

Moral Experience in Contemporary Moscow


Author: Jarrett Zigon
The post-Soviet years have widely been interpreted as a period of intense moral questioning, debate, and struggle. Despite this claim few studies have revealed how this moral experience has been lived and articulated by Russians themselves. This book provides an intimate portrait of how five Muscovites have experienced the post-Soviet years as a period of intense refashioning of their moral personhood, and how this process can only be understood at the intersection of their unique personal experiences, a shared Russian/Soviet history, and increasingly influential global discourses and practices. The result is a new approach to understanding everyday moral experience and the processes by which new moral persons are cultivated.

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Jarrett Zigon, Ph.D. in Anthropology (2006, CUNY Graduate Center), is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He has published extensively on morality in post-Soviet Russia and the anthropology of moralities, including Morality: an anthropological perspective (Berg 2008).
"Jarrett Zigon’s new book is a fresh and welcome addition to the growing body of ethnography on postsocialist Russia [...] More important and successful here is Zigon’s effort to step decisively away from essentialist visions of what “Russian morality” (242) might be in order to emphasize the dialogic and intersubjective nature of moral experience. While this makes for fewer of the “take-away” insights into postsocialist moral culture some readers will be seeking, it also enables a thoughtful, original, and thought-provoking contribution to the anthropology of morality and personhood more broadly." – Jennifer Patico, Georgia State University, in: Slavic Review 70/3 (Fall 2011), pp. 720-1
Part I: Backgrounds
a window within the window
post-Soviet social and personal transformations
articulating morality in contemporary Russia
the anthropology of moralities
theory of moral breakdown
life history and experience
locating my interlocutors
organization of the book

Part II: Moral Portraits
Olya and Larisa
Aleksandra Vladimirovna

Part III: Some Conclusions
morality and personhood
range of possibilities
morality and new post-Soviet personhood
All those interested in Russian society and history, postsocialism, social change, morality and moral experience, and life history.