UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


The Last Soviet City of Europe: Historical Memory and Nostalgia for the Future in Cavriago

05 February 2024, 11:00 am–12:00 pm

Exhibition in Reggio Emilia

A SSEES Research student seminar with Carmela Morgillo

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to









Masaryk room
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton street

With its simultaneous configuration as the archenemy of liberal democracy and celebration as the world’s first truly egalitarian state, the Soviet Union remains one of the most complex signifiers of our era. Even thirty years after its collapse, it continues to inspire nostalgic practices that influence the social and political behaviours of both those who survived it and those who never experienced it.

In this seminar, I present the opening chapter of my PhD research and trace the genealogy of Soviet nostalgia between the Mediterranean paradise of Capri and what has been defined as “the most pro-Soviet of the provinces of the American Empire” - the Emilia Romagna region. Bringing together the findings from my fieldwork trip in Cavriago, the town where Lenin is the honorary mayor, autoethnographic reflections, and online renditions of the USSR past, I explore Soviet nostalgia as an hauntology of dissent and as a collective project of world-building beyond capitalism.

Bio: Carmela Morgillo is a PhD student at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES). Her research focuses on the reclamation of Soviet symbology within online spaces, where the USSR is the subject of a retrofuturist utopian narrative that rewrites the Soviet past as an ideal future and celebrates its leaders as popular culture icons. Carmela’s other research interests include online activism, algorithmic injustice, and global sex workers-led movements.

Image credit: Felicitazioni! CCCP Fedeli alla linea 1984-2024 (Exhibition in Reggio Emilia) Ph Matteo Margherita