Small cogs of a big economy: how agricultural waste bristles and hair raised Soviet industry

Tetiana Perga, State Institution “Institute of World History of National Academy of Science of Ukraine”, Volkswagen Foundation Fellow, Heidelberg University, Germany

October 30 (Sunday) 10.00-11.30 (Helsinki), online

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Various agricultural, industrial, and household wastes played a major role in the formation of the Soviet economy in the 1920s and 1930s. This paper will reveal the role of agricultural waste such as bristles and hair. The author will demonstrate that the brushes and tussles that were made from bristles and hair were small but indispensable “cogs” in the work of Soviet heavy industry, construction, transport, shipbuilding, textile, flour milling, printing and other industries. The author will analyse the technological process of bristle and hair processing, which Soviet engineers constantly tried to improve in order to increase the yield of raw materials and simultaneously minimize the waste of this production. The problems faced by bristle and hair procurers in the USSR during this period due to the lack of livestock waste and the famine of 1932-1933 will be shown. Ways of replacing bristles and hair with domestic and exported plant materials will also be discussed.

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