Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream

Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream

by Diane P. Koenker


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The Bolsheviks took power in Russia 1917 armed with an ideology centered on the power of the worker. From the beginning, however, Soviet leaders also realized the need for rest and leisure within the new proletarian society and over subsequent decades struggled to reconcile the concept of leisure with the doctrine of communism, addressing such fundamental concerns as what the purpose of leisure should be in a workers’ state and how socialist vacations should differ from those enjoyed by the capitalist bourgeoisie.

In Club Red, Diane P. Koenker offers a sweeping and insightful history of Soviet vacationing and tourism from the Revolution through perestroika. She shows that from the outset, the regime insisted that the value of tourism and vacation time was strictly utilitarian. Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, the emphasis was on providing the workers access to the "repair shops" of the nation’s sanatoria or to the invigorating journeys by foot, bicycle, skis, or horseback that were the stuff of "proletarian tourism." Both the sedentary vacation and tourism were part of the regime’s effort to transform the poor and often illiterate citizenry into new Soviet men and women.

Koenker emphasizes a distinctive blend of purpose and pleasure in Soviet vacation policy and practice and explores a fundamental paradox: a state committed to the idea of the collective found itself promoting a vacation policy that increasingly encouraged and then had to respond to individual autonomy and selfhood. The history of Soviet tourism and vacations tells a story of freely chosen mobility that was enabled and subsidized by the state. While Koenker focuses primarily on Soviet domestic vacation travel, she also notes the decisive impact of travel abroad (mostly to other socialist countries), which shaped new worldviews, created new consumer desires, and transformed Soviet vacation practices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501710674
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 1,201,121
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Diane P. Koenker is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Republic of Labor: Russian Printers and Soviet Socialism, 1918–1930 and coeditor of Turizm: The Russian and East European Tourist under Capitalism and Socialism, both from Cornell.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Vacations, Tourism, and the Paradoxes of Soviet Culture1. Mending the Human Motor2. Proletarian Tourism: The Best Form of Rest3. The Proletarian Tourist in the 1930s: Seeking the Good Life on the Road4. Restoring Vacations after the War5. From Treatment to Vacation: The Post-Stalin Consumer Regime6. Post-Proletarian Tourism: The New Soviet Person Takes to the Road7. The Modernization of Soviet TourismConclusion: Soviet Vacations and the Modern WorldBibliography

What People are Saying About This

Shelley Baranowski

"Club Red's scope is impressive; Diane P. Koenker covers tourism and vacations from the Soviet Union’s beginnings to its dissolution. In so doing, she describes how tourism and vacations both reflected and contributed to the transformation of Soviet society from a spartan and productivist proletarianism to the Soviet version of the 'good life.’ Because Koenker situations Soviet vacations and tourism within the broader history of the role of consumerism and tourism in modern societies, Club Red’s appeal will extend well beyond scholars and students of Soviet history."

Catriona Kelly

"This impeccably researched, percipient, and engaging book is an excellent new addition to Cornell University Press's outstanding Russian and Soviet history list. Following Soviet tourists from sumptuous neoclassical 'rest homes’ on the Black Sea to mule trains, from ocean liners to hitchhiking, Diane P. Koenker’s Club Red explores the paradoxes of leisure time spent to ‘the rule of the bell,’ and, conversely, the contradictions of activities in which therapeutic and socializing regimes were offset by the quest for fun and romance. Representing Soviet institutions and ‘Soviet identity’ from a novel angle, the book shows how turizm took people to locations outside ordinary space and time; it makes an important contribution to the new spatial history as well as to the history of everyday life and social relations."

Donald J. Raleigh

"Skillfully crafted, smartly written, meticulously researched, and historiographically new and important, Club Red is vintage Koenker. The author deftly dissects the paradox of how and why an authoritarian state preaching collectivist principles promoted the individual autonomy and selfhood of its citizens through vacation travel, how they lived their lives under socialism, and what this all means."

The Russian Review - Tricia Starks

"Diane Koenker presents a fascinating picture of the off-hours of workers in the proletarian state.... Koenker combines institutional, social, cultural, identity, and gender history in a superb tale of tourism in the Soviet Union that will be useful to scholars in any of those fields. Additionally, Club Red seems especially well suited to classes on the postwar Soviet experience or comparative courses on the post-1945 world, and chapters would productive and enjoyable discussion material in undergraduate classes."

Stephen Lovell

"From the recuperative rest homes of the 1920s to the 'wild' tourism of the 1970s, vacationing in the Soviet Union was meaningful business. In this exemplary piece of research, Diane P. Koenker shows how much the nonproductive side of life has to tell us about all aspects of the Soviet experience."

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