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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Skopin Denis

Skopin Denis

Associate Professor of Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Smolny College), St. Petersburg State University (SPbU), 58–60 Galernaya str., St. Petersburg 190000, Russia.


Governing the Dead: Discipline and Biopolitics / Logos. 2019. № 2 (129). P. 82-103
annotation:  The analysis of practices applied to the body of dominated subjects - their spatial disposition, military drills, corporal punishment and execution - occupies an important place among Michel Foucault’s theories. This article provides an analysis of practices that are not governed by any ritual but by the dominant political mechanisms as those practices are applied to dead bodies. In other words, the logic of Foucault’s analysis is extended to the dead body, in particular to that of a political prisoner. The dead body, as well as the living one, is arguably located at the intersection of two types of power described by Foucault: disciplinary power and biopolitics. On the one hand, the corpse is the focus of disciplinary mechanisms that seek to identify and individualize it, and also to prevent it from dissolving into the mass of other anonymous corpses that have completely exhausted their potential for use. On the other hand, the inmate’s body can be subjected to more radical, massifying, and anonymizing practices that treat it as part of a population to be exterminated. The paper analyzes two ways of treating the corpse: cremation and burial. In the 20th century, the ritual significance of cremation and burial has been replaced by a political one, especially when they are used as repressive measures applied to the corpse of an inmate that died in a concentration or labor camp. In terms of their political meaning, these two practices are not at all equivalent.
Keywords:  discipline; biopower; body; death; concentration camp; cremation; burial; embalming.
The End of Bourgeois Dwellings. Communal Apartments and Museums in “The Moscow Diary” / Logos. 2018. № 1 (122). P. 115-142
annotation:  In The Moscow Diary, Walter Benjamin tries to avoid value judgments: he declares his aim is rather to “record” the facts. The objective of this article is to make explicit Benjamin’s evaluation of what he sees in Moscow by confronting Benjamin’s Moscow observations to his political and aesthetic expectations described in his earlier writings. First of all, Benjamin discovers some alarming political signs in Moscow, the most important of which is the growing bureaucratization. In the Moscow of 1926, neither proletarians nor even “NEPmen” (a “relic” of capitalism) are the ruling class: the power belongs to the Party bureaucracy. Benjamin’s concern regarding the political situation coincides with his concern of an aesthetic kind. What Benjamin observes in Moscow contradicts his idea of the “aesthetic revolution” as carnival (see Naples). As argued by the author of The Moscow Diary, the Russian revolution generates forms of alienation even more serious than those generated by the capitalist system. The article analyzes only one motive from The Moscow Diary—that of fragmentation of bourgeois dwellings. Cohabitation in communal apartments occurs due to a lack of alternatives, and is not voluntary. As a result, the inhabitants of Moscow’s communal apartments are alienated from their dwellings, and the ideal of the commune as the voluntary cohabitation of people is flouted. Besides that, the fragmentation of bourgeois dwellings coincides with the fragmentation of the “building interior,” i.e. the collections of rare objects and pieces of art which were kept there previously. The only acceptable form of transformation of bourgeois interior that Benjamin observes in Moscow is its museification. Only Moscow’s museums, where the proletariat feels at home, allows him to hope for a successful outcome of the Russian revolution.
Keywords:  Walter Benjamin; “The Moscow Diary”; Russian revolution; communal apartments; museums
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