Western theories of biopolitics focus on its liberal and fascist rationalities. In opposition to this, Stalinism is oriented more towards transforming life in accordance with the communist ideal, and less towards protecting it. Sergei Prozorov reconstructs this rationality in the early Stalinist project of the Great Break (1928–32) and its subsequent modifications during High Stalinism. He then relocates the question of biopolitics down to the level of the subject, tracing the way the ‘new Soviet person’ was to be produced in governmental practices and the role that violence and terror would play in this construction. Throughout, he engages with the canonical theories of Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben and Roberto Esposito, and the ‘new materialist’ theories of Michel Henry, Quentin Meillassoux and Catherine Malabou to critique the conventional approaches to biopolitics ; Sergei Prozorov critically analyses Stalinism as a distinct strain of political theory, showing how it was oriented towards transforming, not protecting, life in accordance with the communist ideal. He engages with the theories of Foucault, Agamben, Esposito, Meillassoux, Henry and Malabou to critique conventional approaches to biopolitics. ; Preface; Introduction; 1 Postcommunist Stalinism: The Resurrection of the Effective Manager; 2 Stalinism in the Theory of Biopolitics: A Brief Genealogy of a Reticence; 3 The Great Break: Making Socialism Real; 4 High Stalinism: Retreat, Simulacrum, Terror; 5 Deathly Life: The Subject of Stalinism; 6 Shalamov, or the Negative Experience; 7 A Real Renewal of Life: Towards an Affirmative Biopolitics; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
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A fascinating study. Prozorov is not only one of the most interesting scholars of 20th and 21st century Russia, but he’s able to engage with high theory in a readable and entertaining manner.
- Professor Bill Bowring
Sergei Prozorov is University Lecturer in World Politics and Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki. He is the author of six monographs, the most recent being Ontology and World Politics: Void Universalism I and Theory of the Political Subject: Void Universalism II (both Routledge, 2013), and numerous journal articles on political philosophy and international relations.