Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Marxism in Culture: The Social Use of Reason - A Concept of Enlightenment in Early Proletkult

11 October 2019, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm


The IAS is delighted to host this Marxism in Culture seminar with Maria Chehonadskih (Central Saint Martins)

This event is free.

Event Information

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Andrew Murray


IAS Forum
First Floor, South Wing, UCL
Gower Street
United Kingdom

In the early years of Soviet power, Alexander Bogdanov, the co-founder of Proletkul’t (Proletarian Cultural-Enlightenment Organizations), proposes a programme of the socialisation of knowledge. This implies not only accessibility of education and culture for all segments of society regardless of class and ethnic origin, but also collective ownership, equality of professors and students, and even the appropriation by the people of all achievements of the ‘world culture’. Relying on archival materials, the paper reassesses the core of the post-revolutionary debates on proletarian art, the knowledge of the oppressed and the programmes of “art in production” and “art in life”. The paper proposes to distinguish between a Kantian concept of Enlightenment as an orientation to the public use of reason and the early Soviet understanding of Enlightenment as a process of the socialisation of reason. It will be argued that while the Kantian Enlightenment establishes a dispositif of criticality, which obeys the established rules and norms of a given society, the Soviet widening of the Marxist concept of the socialisation of production attempts to question the core problem of the capitalist rationality – a superiority of the autonomous and independent reason attached to the existing forms of private property. The paper concludes by elaborating the idea of the socialisation of knowledge in relation to art, history and communism.


Maria Chehonadskih teaches philosophy and art theory at Central St. Martins, UAL. She received her PhD in philosophy from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University in 2017. Her research and work concentrate on Soviet epistemologies across philosophy, literature, and art. She has given talks in various universities and art institutions on these topics and published in journals and magazines, such as Radical PhilosophySouth Atlantic QuarterlyCrisis and Critique and e-flux.

All welcome!

Convenors: Matthew Beaumont, Dave Beech, Alan Bradshaw, Warren Carter, Gail Day, Steve Edwards, Larne Abse Gogarty, Esther Leslie, Luisa Lorenza Corna, David Mabb, Antigoni Memou, Andy Murray, Dominic Rahtz, Pete Smith, Peter Thomas, Alberto Toscano, Marina Vishmidt.