The flexible and the pliant: Disturbed organisms of Soviet modernity

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In the texts of prominent Soviet figures such as writer Maxim Gorky, the agrobiologist Trofim Lysenko, and the educator Anton Makarenko, the uncertainty of social norms in early Soviet society became equated with an instability of environment in general and nature in particular. A powerful and vivid rhetoric of a "second nature," to use Gorky's phrase, overcame the absence of clearly articulated models for subjectivity. A series of disciplining routines and activities capable of producing the new Soviet subject compensated in the 1930s for the dissolution of the daily order of things and all the structuring effects, social networks, and reciprocal obligations that were associated with it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-428
Number of pages37
JournalCultural Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Biopolitics
  • Everyday life
  • Russia
  • Subjectivity
  • Technology


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