POTATO ONTOLOGY: Surviving Postsocialism in Russia:



Asked to explain the mechanisms of everyday survival in Russia, many people answer with one word: "potato." Potato is a key factor in subsistence throughout postsocialist countries, but potato discourses and practices serve as well to dramatize the stark devolution of state–society relations and the ceaseless industry of the population. This essay posits potato as an axis of practice, around which myriad gestures of labor, exchange, and consumption are organized; it also presents potato as a complex system of knowledge, embedded in historical memory and encapsulating local theories of economic devolution. Several ethnographic and economic studies have analyzed the significance of postsocialist food growing; this essay focuses on the chief product of that labor and the narratives that circulate around it. It argues that although potato conveys popular critiques of social stratification, it also frames experiences of personhood.

Access to this content is restricted.

  • If you are a AAA member please login to obtain full-text access.
  • If you are not a AAA member you can find out more information and join here https://avectra.aaanet.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=verify
  • If you are a library patron of an academic institution, and are experiencing an access issue please contact your library administrator for assistance.
  • If you would like to purchase online access to this single article please locate the article on Wiley Online Library or contact a Wiley-Blackwell customer service representative at cs-journals@wiley.com.