Principal invistigator: William Nickell, Associate Professor, Chair of the Slavic Department
William Nickell's work focuses on Soviet science with an eye toward the particularity of its goals and achievements, and to examine more comprehensively the production of knowledge under Marxist cultural authority. A Bolshevik academy, freed from the influence of capitalist markets and values, was supposed to produce a different kind of science. Speakers have been asked to consider the following questions: What can be learned from the organization of the sciences that emerged from the Marxist critique of the academy as a bourgeois institution? How did government influence and the isolation of the Soviet academy both contribute to and inhibit its successes? What was the role of centralized planning, patronage, and organization? What Soviet schools emerged, and how were their approaches inflected by the intellectual habitus in which they operated?
Additionally, he is interested in studying the dissemination of academic knowledge as both product and agent of Bolshevik power. The Soviet government set forth an ambitious agenda of mass education, approaching it not only as a strategic concern, but also as an instrument of progressive politics. In the attempt to liberate knowledge from class constraints, special attention was paid to the formation of knowledge in common, which was viewed as a productive constituent of the personality, integrated within strong collective identities. Common knowledge and shared belief were treated as antidotes to alienation, and produced that stability/stagnation of the later Soviet period that lasted until the reforms of the late 1980s introduced new models of knowing and information exchange, destabilizing the whole system.