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Revolutionary ExperimentsThe Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction$
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Nikolai Krementsov

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199992980

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199992980.001.0001

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“Quo Vadimus?”: Human Biology and Human Destiny

“Quo Vadimus?”: Human Biology and Human Destiny

(p.160) 6 “Quo Vadimus?”: Human Biology and Human Destiny
Revolutionary Experiments

Nikolai Krementsov

Oxford University Press

This chapter illuminates the place of biomedical sciences in the culture and society of 1920s Russia. It investigates the role that the new knowledge of human biology played in answering the “big” questions of human nature and human destiny (who are we? where we come from? and where are we going?), which had haunted humanity for millennia and assumed particular urgency in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution. It demonstrates a particular cultural affinity of the Bolsheviks’ visions of the country’s future to the promises of eternal life and hopes for conquering death generated by concurrent biomedical research. It examines efforts of scientists, their Bolshevik patrons, and their literary fans/critics who collectively transformed esoteric, specialized biomedical knowledge into an influential cultural resource, a resource that facilitated the establishment of large specialized institutions for biomedical research, inspired numerous science-fiction stories, displaced religious beliefs, and gave the centuries-old dream of immortality new forms and new meanings in Bolshevik Russia.

Keywords:   science and the future, science fiction, “big” science, science and religion, science as a cultural resource

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