NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, 19 University Place, 2nd Floor, New York, NY
Speaker: Alexei Kojevnikov, Associate Professor at the Department of History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Extraordinary excitement and trauma experienced by the Russian public during violent and catastrophic events of the early 20th century – the World War, Revolutions, and the Civil War – brought about dramatic changes in cultural perceptions of space and time. By 1921 – after nearly seven years of intellectual isolation – sensational news started arriving from Europe, producing an intellectual turmoil that focused on Einstein’s relativity, Steinach’s rejuvenation, and Spengler’s diagnosis of world history. Their ideas, when reinterpreted within the new revolutionary culture, contributed to an outburst of wildly unconventional theories and speculative hypotheses that linked the concept of space-time to biological resurrection, astronomical and historical catastrophism, the eternal return, and fundamental periodicities at different time scales (personal, historical, and cosmological).
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Alexei Kojevnikov is an Associate Professor at the Department of History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He received his MS in physics in 1984 from Moscow State University and PhD in history of science in 1989 from the Institute for History of Science and Technology in Moscow. After a Humboldt fellowship in Germany and several postdoctoral positions in the USA in the 1990s, he taught history of science at the University of Georgia, Athens, GA, before moving in 2006 to his current position at UBC. His research combines history of science with approaches from cultural and social history and focuses on two fields, the history and social relations of modern physics approximately between Einstein and Dr. Strangelove, and the cultural/political history of science in Russia and the Soviet Union. He is the author of Stalin’sGreat Science: The Times and Adventures of Soviet Physicists (London, 2004), Rockefeller Philanthropies and Soviet Science (St. Petersburg, 1993), and a co-editor of Weimar Culture and Quantum Mechanics (Singapore, 2011) and Intelligentsia Science: The Russian Century, 1860-1960 (Chicago, 2008). While at NYU, Kojevnikov will study documents and archival collections of some members of the Russian emigration of the early 20th century. His project “Space-Time, Death-Resurrection, and the Russian Revolution,” explores the cultural history of space and time in revolutionary period, or how people who survived a great historical cataclysm changed their spatial and temporal interpretations and perceptions and invented radically new concepts, such as the Big Bang theory of the Universe.