“A Tale of a Young Woman”

“Everyday Life, Geoengineering, and the Industrial Spectacle in Soviet Siberia” talk at the AATSEEL meeting 2/4/2017, San Francisco
This is the first time I talked publicly in such detail about a story written down and titled by V. Gavriolov “Bratsk-54: A Tale of a Young Woman,” the story of a young female Bratsk dam construction worker.
It is my honor to make her lost, nameless, inevitably distorted through writing, through translation, voice sound. She was deemed disposable. She wasn’t.

3 thoughts on ““A Tale of a Young Woman”

  1. The word “disposable” was put in play by someone else on your panel, I believe, and the word “ephemeral” was used to describe the document in which your subject’s story was recorded. It’s not only a service to her to draw attention to her story, but it helps assemble a counter-narrative in what might be called a demotic voice, “as lived,” to the “heroic, super-human” discourse that Trump now also uses.

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    1. Both the words “disposable” and “ephemeral” were brought into this context by Professor Anindita Banerjee. She talked about disposability of the female body, and about ephemeral she talked in connection to the handwritten journal, which has a different ecology to it in comparison to the publishing of literary works–volumes by Yevtushenko or Rasputin–the industrial process which involves the use of timber in production of paper and emission of chemicals into the atmosphere.

      I am absorbing her comment into the text, thanking her for the insight she offered.


      1. I thought of your subject’s account as a “demotic” narrative, as opposed to the official narrative (the propaganda) and the recognized poetic narratives (Yevtushenko and Rasputin). It seemed fitting that it took the form it did. Self-expression in all forms seeks to transcend our “disposable” condition, so alien to our actual (if deluded) sense of self. In our hearts, we know that all of the narratives are ephemeral, even the drawings etched on rocks. In this respect, a pencil on paper is as good as flint on a rock.

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