The Kunstkammer of Terror : Political Anatomy in Petrine Russia Conférence

Organisateurs : Ada Ackerman, Kirill Ospovat (Humboldt Universität) ; Anna Joukovskaïa (CNRS)

Programme : Projets ARIAS/LabEx TransferS

ENS, salle Assia Djebar
29 rue d’Ulm
75005 Paris

In this session, I will investigate the Petrine appropriation of Western knowledge (mostly “natural philosophy”) institutionalized in the form of the Kunstkamera and the Petersburg Academy of Sciences, and its functions as a technology of power. Looking both at practices and discourses of Petrine science and their origins in the West, I will illuminate their fundamental alignment with royal terror culminating in Peter’s persecution and judicial murder of his son and heir, Alexei. Peter’s reforming sovereignty was largely conceived as a grand technology of the body, involving both intense physical intrusions into the bodies of subjects, and a set of ideas which explained rule and submission as a relationship between nature and “art”. Both the Kunstkamera and the Academy of Sciences (based on a project developed by Leibniz) perpetuated the Baconian identification of natural knowledge with “absolutist” statehood and thus manifested the symbolic foundations of Russia’s renewed monarchy.

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