In Marx's Shadow: Knowledge, Power, and Intellectuals in Eastern Europe and Russia

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9780739136249: In Marx's Shadow: Knowledge, Power, and Intellectuals in Eastern Europe and Russia

Despite its key role in the intellectual shaping of state socialism, Communist ideas are often dismissed as mere propaganda or as a rhetorical exercise aimed at advancing socialist intellectuals on their way to power. By drawing attention to unknown and unexplored areas, trends and ways of thinking under socialism, the volume examines Eastern Europe and Russian histories of intellectual movements inspired - negatively as well as positively - by Communist arguments and dogmas. Through an interdisciplinary dialogue, the collection demonstrates how various bodies of theoretical knowledge (philosophical, social, political, aesthetic, even theological) were used not only to justify dominant political views, but also to frame oppositional and nonofficial discourses and practices.

The examination of the underlying structures of Communism as an intellectual project provides convincing evidence for questioning a dominant approach that routinely frames the post-Communist intellectual development as a "revival" or, at least, as a "return" of the repressed intellectual traditions. As the book shows, the logic of a radical break, suggested by this approach, is in contradiction with historical evidence: a significant number of philosophical, theoretical and ideological debates in post-Communist world are in fact the logical continuation of intellectual conversations and confrontations initiated long before 1989.

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About the Author:

Costica Bradatan is Assistant Professor of Honors at Texas Tech University. He has also taught at Cornell University, Miami University, as well as at several universities in Europe (England, Germany, Hungary and Romania) and Asia (India). Bradatan has held research fellowships at, among others, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California Los Angeles, and the Newberry Library in Chicago. His research interests include Continental philosophy, history of philosophy, East-European philosophy, and philosophy of literature. He has co-edited (with Serguei Alex. Oushakine) In Marx's Shadow. Knowledge, Power and Intellectuals in Eastern Europe and Russia (Lexington Books, 2010) and guest-edited two special journal issues: one on "Philosophy as Literature" for The European Legacy (2009) and another on "Philosophy in Eastern Europe" for Angelaki (2010).

Review:

Bradatan and Oushakine's volume maps out the vast territory of philosophical issues shaped and left behind by decades of state socialism. It is the first attempt of its kind in conditions of post-socialism, and as such it will provide an immense assistance to those seeking to understand what the real, deep, and abiding philosophical conflicts are around the ideas of communism. This is an excellent volume with outstanding contributions from anthropologists, historians, philosophers, and political scientists. (Karen Dawisha, Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Political Science and Director of the Havighurst Center for Post-Soviet Studies, Miami Univers)

The voices of those who dissented from Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe were heard in distinct ways in the West and faintly at times in their own societies. The editors of this collection have brought leading scholars of culture and discourse to explore analytically the words and images with which dissident intellectuals explained their world of "unfreedom." Some of those thinkers and writers rejected entirely the Leninist enterprise; others hoped to reform it into a humane socialism. Seldom have Western observers listened as attentively to the voices of those within as the participants in this volume. Here we find language and aesthetics as weapons, utopia as hope and despair, and both the enabling power of words and the limits of imagination. (Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan)

The variety of views informing this book makes for a rewarding read. The fact that they are often at methodological, if not political, loggerheads increases rather than diminishes its attractiveness. Just as much can be learned from different treatments of the same subject, so there is, for western scholars, ample reason to appreciate the advancement in our terms of discussion brought about by the addition of scholars from the former socialist states to our conferences, publishing outlets, and universities. Where we once ambled about the arid ideoscape of Cold War categories and, then, neoliberal simplicities such as “democratization” and “institution building,” we now engage with richer, more promising, and certainly more challenging ways of thought introduced in no small measure by those who used to be over there. (Slavic Review)

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