Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Experimental Animals: Non-Human Agency in Post-Revolutionary and Early-Soviet Film, Literature and Theory

Ämne: Literary Studies, Environmental Humanities, History of Science
Projektledare: Asiya Bulatova
Startår: 2024
Projekttyp: Projekt
Beviljade medel: 3 466 000 kr

This project investigates how animals represented in post-revolutionary literature and film contributed to expanding human perceptions and practices of environmental and social justice. It shows that these literary and cinematic experiments discursively bestowed agency on animals, while also imagining non-human lifeforms as possessing the power to alter the biological and mental makeup of the humans they encounter. The creation of the Soviet “new human,” as envisioned by revolutionary ideologues and medical professionals, often involved the highly publicised use of animal organs and bodily fluids. Unlike the scientific and biomedical experiments carried out in the period that relied on vivisection and other acts of cruelty, experiments conducted by avant-garde artists and writers envisioned animals as co-creators, rather than objects of their experimental manipulations. The project considers how the theory and practice of estrangement (ostranenie), formulated in 1917 by the leading theorist of Russian Formalism Viktor Shklovsky and implemented in post-revolutionary literature and film, invites new pathways for thinking and seeing by introducing non-human agents into human perceptive practices. This interdisciplinary project examines how Russian and Ukrainian writers, filmmakers, and theorists of the period implemented estrangement as both a creative and a political technique to mobilize unconditional resistance to cruelty and create positive visions of sustainable futures.