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Call for Submissions: The History of Soviet Central Asia in 100 Objects



Organised by Edmund Herzig (University of Oxford),  Botakoz Kassymbekova (Liverpool John Moores University) & Alexander Morrison (University of Oxford)


About the Exhibition

"The History of Soviet Central Asia in 100 Objects" is an online museum exhibition project that aims to convey histories of Soviet Central Asia through material objects. Inspired by Neil Macgregor's "A History of the World in 100 objects", the exhibition aims to open up the field of Soviet Central Asian studies to the general public, but also enrich the historical narrative of the Soviet past in Central Asia through material objects and their "biographies."

The online exhibition will present 100 material objects, which are presented as a lens to tell stories of a particular period, idea, experience or event. The objects will be arranged chronologically so that they cover the whole Soviet period, highlighting the specificity of each historical and geographic context. Each object will be commented by a historian from the field of Soviet Central Asian studies. The accompanying commentary will draw upon personal, family, regional and all-Soviet histories, in some cases exploring the literary resonances or artistic inspiration for a particular object, whilst also explaining how it was produced, used and preserved.

We aim to bring together complex and polyphonic narratives of the period and its collapse from so far unlikely angles, such as through history of clothing and food. We also welcome objects that reflect history of migration, interconnectedness to other regions, of fluidity of borders and belongings, uncovering multicultural and global dimensions. Beyond such historical and visual analysis, we expect exhibition entries to draw attention to mentions of particular objects in literature, and examine their resonance in contemporary Central Asian culture.

The exhibition’s opening in 2021 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the demise of the Soviet Union and presents/celebrates diverse historical research of the Soviet period in the region. In addition, our exhibition will feature narratives with “ordinary” people and their experiences of the Soviet period and its collapse, including those who currently live but also who already left Central Asia, highlighting the temporal and biographical geography of the region.

How to participate

We invite submissions from scholars of the Soviet Central Asian period to exhibit an object through which they would like to unravel an episode in Soviet Central Asian history. Such artefacts can include, but are not limited to images, letters, personal belongings, song recordings, etc. The image of the object should be accompanied with a text of around 500 words that explains how this object sheds light on aspects of the Soviet Central Asian past. Objects that open up little known histories of Soviet Central Asia are especially welcome. The commentary should explain original function of the object, if possible, with a comment on its appropriation and/or the narratives behind the design of the project. Other approaches are also welcome. We also seek contributions from the general public to exhibit an object that represents their personal experience of the Soviet period. 

Please submit your proposed exhibition entry to include:
1) An image of your object in the highest digital resolution possible. Please make sure that the images do not require copyright. For all images that do, we will need written permission. In exceptional cases, we can cover costs of 3-D digitalization and copyright costs.

2) Accompanying text that uncovers a particular period, idea, experience or event through that object. Please provide, where appropriate: a) date of photograph; b) indicate photographer; c) place; d) source of acquisition. You can provide additional literature to read about the topic. Please note that we will not be able to pay for entries.

3) A short biographical statement (2-3 sentences) for your entry. 

Send your proposals and queries to by May 10th 2021.

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