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Title: Revolutionary thinking : a theoretical history of Alexander Luria's 'Romantic science'
Author: Proctor, Hannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 6936
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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The Soviet psychologist and neurologist Alexander Luria (1902-1977) asserted that human consciousness is formed by and participates in forming history. His explicitly Marxist approach to psychology and neurology itself emerged from a particular time and place. This thesis seeks to restore Luria’s work to its history, situating his research in its Soviet context - from the October Revolution in 1917 through the collectivisation of agriculture and Stalinist Terror to the Second World War. This PhD follows the course of Luria’s career through Soviet history, and is also structured around the developmental trajectories that informed his research. Luria’s work was consistently concerned with tracing the emergence of the ‘culturally developed’ human being, defined as an educated person capable of exerting an influence on their environment. He argued that this figure was the result of various developmental trajectories: the biological evolution of the species from animal to human, the cultural development of societies from ‘primitivism’ to ‘civilization’, and the maturation of the individual from baby to adult. Chapter 1 discusses Luria’s early engagement with psychoanalysis and his rejection of the Freudian death drive. Chapter 2 considers experiments Luria conducted in Soviet Central Asia during the period of the First Five Year Plan (1928-1932), exploring his engagement with Stalinism through an analysis of his attempt to trace a transition from ‘primitive’ to ‘civilized’ thought. Chapter 3 focuses on the contradictory figure of the revolutionary child, who occupied a symbolic position in Soviet culture between change and continuity. Finally, Chapter 4 turns to consider Luria’s work with people who survived brain injuries inflicted during the Second World War. It concludes by arguing that the war violently interrupted the progressive developmental trajectories Luria’s work had hitherto been structured around (which broadly agreed with orthodox Marxist-Leninist accounts of historical progress). It is at that moment, I contend, that he finally developed the ‘real, not sham’ Marxist psychology he had always sought to create.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available