Historian co-edits new book on Russian history and material culture
Professor Trish Starks of Department of History and the U of A Center for Human Sciences, has published a new edited volume, with its co-editors, Professors Matthew P. Romaniello of Weber University in Utah and Alison K. Smith of the University of Toronto.
The book, titled The life cycle of Russian things: from fish guts to Fabergé, 1600 to the present day, uses interdisciplinary and comparative methods to highlight Russian and Soviet materials from a historical perspective.
The volume includes an international spectrum of scholars with contributors from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany. The essays cover everything from 17th-century intrigues about glass glue made from sturgeon swim bladders to the bonds of WWII Soviet soldiers with their tanks during combat and repairs.
Anthropologists, historians, art historians and museological experts each study a different aspect of material culture to show how the study of objects can engender a visceral understanding of the past.
In addition to editing and co-writing the intro, Starks also helped research the volume. Her essay draws on her work on tobacco use in Russian and Soviet culture to discuss sensory inducements to addictive behavior in Russia in the early 20th century.
Using examples of cigarette cases, lighters and exquisite racks from the McFerrin Fabergé collections in Houston, TX, Starks advocates for a re-conceptualization of the interplay between the physical, tactile, social and fashion. in creating the problem of smoking in Russia.
The book can be purchased directly from Bloomsbury.