Alexei Yurchak

Alexei Yurchak
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/09/2017 - 30/06/2018


Anthropologie et ethnologie

Fonction d’origine

Maître de conférences

Institution d’origine

University of California, Berkeley (États-Unis)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Bodies of Lenin. Biochemistry of Communist Futures

During the Soviet period, Lenin’s body played the role of a central ideological symbol and its public display served important propaganda purposes. However, if we study closely the scientific practices that are conducted in the Mausoleum Lab, Lenin’s body would appear to be something quite different than a simple ideological symbol. For example, generations of the Lab scientists have paid particular attention to those parts of the body that remain invisible to the public and have never been intended for display.

The fruits of this unique scientific labor, and even the fact that it is conducted at all, have always been hidden from everyone except for a tiny group of scientists and political leaders. Why has this work been conducted? What science has developed around it? What political, philosophical and scientific criteria have shaped it? Answering these questions will add a unique new perspective on the symbolic foundations of “Leninist” political regimes, the nature of power, legitimacy and sovereignty in that political system, its links with other communist projects around the world and with the political regime in Russia today.


Alexei Yurchak is both an Associate Professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Anthropology as well as a Core Faculty member in the graduate program at the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in cultural and linguistic anthropology from Duke University in 1997 (after having received a graduate degree in physics from Russia. Alexei Yurchak's theoretical interests include the analysis of human agency and its interplay with language and discourses of power especially in post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe. His book Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More has won the Wayne Vucinic Book Award for best book of the year from American Society for Eastern European, Eurasian and Slavic Studies.