Anna Ivanova

Anna Ivanova


Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Humboldt University

Areas of Expertise

Time Period

Anna studies economic and social history of the Soviet Union. Her first book, “Beriozka” Stores: Paradoxes of Consumption in the Late USSR (published in Russian in 2017), is a case-study of a Soviet state-run retail chain that sold scarce, mainly Western-made goods for foreign currency to certain elite groups of Soviet citizens. The book shows that, while initially serving as a means to fill the state’s coffers with foreign currency and accessible only to a privileged few, Beriozka gradually transformed into an oasis of consumerism against a background of chronic shortages, and a locus of both desire and condemnation for the excluded majority. By attending to the history of Beriozka retail stores, the book explores the social hierarchies of the late Soviet Union, the growth of its consumer society and the moral ambiguity of luxurious consumption under socialism.

Anna’s current book project, entitled “Money, Property and Labor: Personal Wealth and Social Justice in the Late Soviet Union” explores material inequality in the Soviet Union. It examines how individuals enriched themselves, as well as the meaning of financial affluence in a country that proclaimed itself egalitarian, almost eradicated private property and criminally prosecuted private enterprise. It seeks to challenge the existing narrative of the Brezhnev’s Soviet Union as the time of cynicism and disbelief in socialism by looking at the ideas about social justice, honest labor, and deserved income.

Anna received her PhD from Harvard University, her Kandidat Nauk degree from the Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences and her BA and MA from the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU).