Soviet Cosmologies and Ontologies, 1960s-1970s
Marie Curie Foundation Symposium, Individual Fellowship, Horizon 2020
Hosted by the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts, University of Wolverhampton
There is a tendency in revisiting the narratives of historical socialism to focus on the early revolutionary avant-garde and repressive post-revolutionary contexts of Soviet cultural politics, or on the destructive legacy of Stalinism and the dissident cultural non-conformisms it produced. This generates a very familiar teleology of state oppression, in which everything is subject to the instrumental logic of Stalinism. Yet, paradoxically, the political economy of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of this repressive teleology in the 1960s and the 1970s – the years that in the historiography of socialism become the embodiment of both the Khrushchev Thaw and the Brezhnevite stagnation – is underwritten by its explicit counter-capitalist sociality.
This is because it was precisely in these years that the residual utopian imaginaries of the communist tradition were able to find a becalmed and reflective (albeit, materially impoverished) place in the would-be socialist relations of Soviet production. As such, these utopian imaginaries became attached to a series of radical humanist interventions into the problems of labour, sexuality, power, gender, language, culture, the unconscious, cognition, reality, the universal, etc, in a context in which the non-libidinal character of post-capitalist political economy became a defining feature of this becalmed, reflective context. The result was the production of new ontologies and lexicons of emancipation, despite the fact that ‘state socialism’ was in its decline. This one-day conference aims to map these ontologies and heterodox socialist critiques in order to inquire as to whether they have any viability in the context of gnoseology, philosophy and critical theory today.
- Maria Chehonadskih (Central Saint Martins)
- Keti Chukhrov (Higher School of Economics, Moscow)
- Nikolay Erofeev (Oxford University)
- Anke Hennig (Central Saint Martins)
- Alexei Penzin (Chto Delat and Wolverhampton University)
- Hannah Proctor (ICA, Berlin)
- David Riff (Arts Festival Steirischer Herbst)
- Galin Tihanov (Queen Mary University)
- John Timberlake (Middlesex University)
The event is free to attend and all welcome! Register for this event.