This paper contributes to the studies of governmentalities of the late 20th century which are predominantly focused on the raise and on various national careers of neoliberal ideas and policy prescriptions, and have only rarely taken into account another powerful trend related to proliferation of information technologies. To complement available research on the role of computer and automation of decision-making in (neo)liberal economy, we’re revealing the existence of alternative technoscientific networks associated with different political projects. Based on archival materials and oral history interviews, we’re reconstructing and analyzing the story of the Franco-Soviet cooperation in the field of economic management, from the late 1950s to the 1980s, which was initially motivated by a common interest in promoting and perfecting planning methods, but was later recast as a dialogue dominated by purely technical issues of the information processing and communication, which finally became a part of the commercial strategy aiming to support the French and Eastern European computer industry. We’re showing that this dynamics was underpinned by various interests and visions of “scientific management” and of the role of computers and information technologies in managing national economy. Importantly, we found that both French and Soviet planners criticized an extensive use of formalization and automatization of managerial decisions–which contradicts widely accepted accounts of confluence between cybernetics and planning. However, under the Brezhnevian conservative turn–despite the rhetoric of the scientific-and-technological revolution–the computer was accepted as a means to preserve the existing social and political order.
Utilizing the minutes of preparations of a manuscript textbook on the history of medicine (1948-1953), the authors reconstruct how it was decided to depict the history of world and Russian medicine; in so doing sacralizing the Soviet state and wildly overstating its care for the health of Soviet people. The archival documents allowed the authors of the article to show how the aspirations and interests of the medical elite in the sacralization of their own role encouraged historians of medicine to develop not a scientific, but an epic version of the past and to repress other versions through political accusations and condemnation of colleagues. The textbook, which had been created and discussed for a long time in the 1940s, was never published. Nevertheless, the authors' reconstruction of its aborted conception made it possible to reveal its enduring formulations in later Soviet and even present-day textbooks, and enduring capacity to shape a Soviet style historical imagination in doctors.
This paper analyzes the mechanisms of creating a symbolic connection between several generations of protesters in the late USSR and in Putin’s Russia. Based on an analysis of the periodical press, data on human-rights violations during public protests, and published sources on the history of Soviet dissidents, the article traces how and for what purposes protesters in the 2000s and 2010s used the symbolic and practical legacy of Soviet dissidents, what additional meanings of protest were actualized with these linkages, and how references to specific spaces of protest actions transformed the content and form of public protests. Using Charles Tilly’s concept of “repertoires of contention,” I argue that references to the dissidents’ legacy were not limited to the discursive level of repeating slogans but included various public actions that memorialized and/or reconsidered the Soviet dissidents’ tradition of contesting the state monopoly over public space.
Conference proceedings of the V. annual German conference at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, April 17, 2019.
As the main tasks of the 18th-century Russian medicine were the support of the army and navy, and the protection of the empire from massive diseases, the regular research of local medical phenomena and resources was not clearly distinguished. The present paper attempts to reveal the ways in which medical knowledge was produced and communicated on the example of crude oil exploration by a Prussian physician in Russian service, Johann Jacob Lerche (1708–1780). Despite the fact that both his wide-ranging medical activities in different areas of the Russian empire and his extensive written heritage drew only fragmentary attention from scholars, they reflect the physician’s expertise in the research of naturalia which he manifested while performing his professional duties. Crude oil was one of the most remarkable mineral wonders of the Pre-Caspian region which Lerche visited twice (1732–1735, 1745–1747). On the basis of his three published accounts, which contain information on petroleum qualities and its practical application, the author investigates how the Baku crude oil, a natural object, was reinvented as a medical resource by an 18th-century state physician in the Russian empire. It is done through the consideration of the processes of world discoveries in the Age of Enlightenment, and the indigenous practices of the oil use. Finally, the significance of the author’s professional position as a state physician appears to have influenced the argumentation of curative qualities of petroleum and the advantages of its location.
Throughout the nineteenth century, language sciences played an eminently political role in Central Europe. They helped to produce or lessen differences, to create narratives of exceptionality or togetherness, or to underscore cultural historicity. The Habsburg Monarchy, where manifold languages were in use, was linguists’ preferred field of inquiry. Often migrating throughout the Monarchy and thus dealing in various ways with Central European cultural diversity, these linguists could thereby easily become political intellectuals. While many of them did indeed openly engage in political activity, I will deliberately leave those cases aside and concentrate on linguists who continued to perceive themselves as scholars; a position Johannes Feichtinger, referring to Pierre Bourdieu, called “autonomously engaged” (Feichtinger 2010, 35–36). As I will argue, however, the factor of scholars entrapped in the culturalizing monarchy, where language, history and finally ethnicity began to shape scholarly inquiry, had a pronounced influence on the production and transformation of language knowledge and the ways in which it became intertwined with politics.
The review of the book by I. Campbell "Knowledge and the Ends of Empire: Kazak Intermediaries and Russian Rule on the Steppe".
This paper focuses on the Tsoi Wall in Moscow, an iconic place on Russia’s music map that appeared in Moscow in 1990 in memory of the cult Soviet rock musician Viktor Tsoi, to develop a framework for studying non-auratic music place—that is, places that are not connected with the biographies of musicians or musical events, but emerge directly from the experiences of visitors and fans. These places are constantly negotiated and only lightly formalized, but are nevertheless enduring. To analyze this type of place, we propose a concept of institutionalization “in becoming.” The case of the Tsoi Wall reveals that light formalization (vague and changing positions and rules, and openness to different interpretations of a place and ways of using it) leads to the recognition of the place as a significant one and to its popularity. We put institutionalization “in becoming” in a wider context and juxtapose it with well-studied musical places in Europe and the US.
The paper is dedicated to the reconstruction of Alexander Piatigorsky’s observational philosophy within the context of the confrontation between two versions of the transcendental project of man-in-the-world. The first project accentuates the invariant functional organization of cognitive systems by abstracting from bodily, affective and phenomenological realization of this organization. On the contrary, the second project emphasizes the phenomenological perspective of the experience of givenness, always already dependent on whose experience this is and how the cognitive system living this experience is organized. The first project can be called functionalist, and the second – phenomenological. Ontological and epistemological positions of these projects are specified in the problem of the observer, its status in the world and cognitive practice. The observational philosophy possesses an intermediate position between these two programs since, aiming to disclose the invariant structure of observation, it proceeds from the factual experience of the embodied subject placed into the situation of self-observation and observation of the other subject. It is concluded that Piatigorsky’s philosophy borrows from the functionalist project the commitment to self-objectivation (observation of thinking is always the observation of the other thinking) and rejection from the spatiotemporal localization of cognitive activity (thinking is always “none’s” and does not belong to any kind of individual). With the phenomenological project of enactivism Piatigorsky shares the aspiration to disclose the invariant cognitive structures during the empirical observation of the real enactment of cognitive agency (the organization of cognitive systems is the same while its structural realizations are multiple), abandonment of substantialization of the self (“none’s” thinking is considered as the emergent effect of interaction among two or several observers – the autopoietic systems) as well as the refusal from theoretical formulation of the problem of consciousness (observational philosophy develops metatheoretical prolegomena to theory of consciousness, which in turn is considered as lived and essentially practical in phenomenology).
What role has objectivity played in the history of science and what role does it play today? How are innovations in science possible? What is the interrelation between research practices, epistemic virtues, and the scientific self? How are epistemic virtues affected by relations of science and the public, the state, the funders, the industry, media, etc.? And what impact has the image of science as full of boldness, uncertainty, doubt, on the social legitimacy of science? Alex Pleshkov and Jan Surman discuss these and many other questions with Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, the authors of Objectivity, one of the most important books of the 21st century in the field of the history of knowledge.
The immediate purpose of this paper is to offer a brief reflection on 1968 as a nodal point in the appropriations and deployments of Romanticism, not least as a diagnostic tool. The article substantiates the case for the continuous after-life of Romanticism in the various guises of post-romanticism, a process which de-emphasizes the notion of period or indeed event, and constructs instead a complex discursive formation that re-negotiates past intellectual agendas and resources by framing them within a discursive longue durée. The article concentrates on the German scene of theory and the student protests during the second half of the 1960s. It traces the mediated links between them and demonstrates how this intellectual and political constellation is traversed by – repurposed and refashioned – Romantic discursive energies that are mobilized in order to make sense of, and respond to, the new developments. The groundwork and the hypotheses advanced in this article require a careful differentiation between two understandings (and projects) of “theory”. In the Conclusion, I discuss the impact of May ’68 on these two different theory projects.
This article examines Russian engineers’ social imagination about the future through the professional discussions of the electrotechnical congresses in the nineteenth century. Formulating the prospective future of the industry, the state and society was a collective endeavor, a process in which the identity and mission of engineers were crystallized. Through envisioning the future of technology and its role in society, engineers revealed their cultural role as mediators between technological innovation, and both the wider public and the state. In order to better understand the manifestations of the shared cultural understandings of a desirable future and social order, the article resorts to the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries (Sh. Jasanoff). The engineering community's sociotechnical imagination about electricity was shaped around the transformative possibilities of this technology. It was believed that electrical engineering was able not only to accelerate industrial production, but also to solve social, medical and cultural problems, thereby uniting the empire. Descriptions of the rational, comfortable and beautiful world of the electrified future overlapped in engineering discussions, journalism and science fiction. Positive scenarios emphasized the advantages of electrical engineering and bypassed the problems associated with electrification, constructing an idea of its inevitability. The electrical engineer became a kind of new cultural hero, who knew how to make a working device or system, and also had the task of linking the development of technology to the development of society.
This essay is part of a special issue entitled “Looking Backward, Looking Forward: HSNS at 50,” edited by Erika Lorraine Milam.
Review. Joy Lisi Rankin, A People’s History of Computing in the United States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018 336 pages. Figures, maps, notes, bibliography, and index. $29.95.
The article deals with the discussion about theoretical works of B. Porshnev in 1951–1953. The aim of this study was to explain a tremendous shift from the class-based ideological approach to periodization of European history (B. Porshnev) to an economic-oriented approach (E. Kosminsky, S. Skazkin) while the paradigm of «Short Course» and marxist methodology have remained unchanged since the 1930s. Defeating Porshnev wasn’t Kosminsky’s party only piece of struggle for academic freedom. The main results of this discussion was, firstly, the reconfiguration of a convention about what is the objectivity and «scientific statement» in the medievists’ academic community, and, secondly, the final definition of a disciplinary boundaries. The author further stresses that theoretical issues, actively discussed in soviet historiography in the late 1950–1960s, was, in part, initiated by scholars themselves before the death of Stalin, and were not directly related to a political liberalization during the «Khrushchev Thaw».
Basing on the materials of Russian scientific, literary, philosophical, journalist and poetic texts, the article looks at the ways electricity was described scientifically and how electrical metaphors were used in non-scientific texts from mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century. Natural science was not free from romanticized and theological ideas, while literature and journalist texts put scientific concepts to artistic imagination. The ideas about electricity were projected onto various spheres of life, and electricity itself became a trope to describe inexplicable phenomena, such as national feeling or the feeling of love.