Alisa Sopova

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Princeton U.

Grant number

Gr. 10731

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Sopova, Alisa (Princeton U.) "The Smell of Russian Tanks: Materiality, Affect, and the Ordinary in Wartime Ukraine"

Everyday life in wartime Ukraine is characterized by novel forms of engagement between people and the material environments they inhabit. Ukrainians collect shrapnel, bullet cases, and other pieces of military equipment to be displayed in living rooms or turned into artwork. They touch, smell, and climb captured Russian tanks exhibited on city squares. Civilians turn their clothes into hand-woven camouflage nets and select domestic objects to pack into emergency backpacks. During this fieldwork project based in Kyiv, Ukraine, I will conduct multisensory ethnography to scrutinize the role that materiality plays in the creative renegotiation of normality in war. I will investigate the practices of everyday life through which people, things, and material environments enact this process together. My central research question is: how do the relationships between people and their material environments change under the impact of mass violence and destruction? Synthesizing insights from the anthropology of war, materiality studies, and affect studies, I seek to explore the more-than-human assemblages as they are broken, enforced, or otherwise impacted by the war, as well as the affective forces that are released in the process.