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The Biopolitics of StalinismIdeology and Life in Soviet Socialism$
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Sergei Prozorov

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474410526

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474410526.001.0001

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Deathly Life: The Subject of Stalinism

Deathly Life: The Subject of Stalinism

(p.171) Chapter 5 Deathly Life: The Subject of Stalinism
The Biopolitics of Stalinism

Sergei Prozorov

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 5 moves from the macro-level of governmental rationality to the micro-level of subjectivation, addressing the mode of subjectivity produced in Stalinist biopolitics. The Soviet regime famously laid a claim to constructing a ‘New Soviet Person’ as a new kind of political subject, though its actual productivity in this respect remains disputed among the scholars of Stalinism. While theorists of totalitarianism viewed Stalinism as crushing and dominating every aspect of subjectivity, more recent accounts of Soviet subjectivation tend to view the Soviet ideological discourse as positively productive in the Foucauldian sense. Our reading of High Stalinism permits us to combine the insights of both approaches: Soviet biopolitics was indeed productive, yet the subjectivity produced was purely negative, almost wholly contained in the destruction of the anterior subject. We interpret this mode of subjectivity with the help of Catherine Malabou’s theory of destructive plasticity.

Keywords:   Soviet subjectivity, Malabou, Catherine, Arendt, Hannah, trauma, plasticity

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