Asiya Bulatova earned her doctorate at the University of Manchester and has been a postdoctoral fellow at the New Europe College in Bucharest, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and CEFRES in Prague. She was also employed as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellow at the University of Warsaw. Her research focuses on the politics of human agency in Russian Formalist theories of creativity and early-Soviet biomedical research. She is currently preparing her monograph Experimental Subjects: Russian Formalism, the Soviet New Human and the Problem of Agency. In her project “The Chaplin Vaccine” she engages with the figure of Charlie Chaplin, tracing the institutional overlaps between biosciences, early film theory, and the scientific organisation of labour. Bulatova’s work has been published in Transcultural Studies, Comparative Critical Studies, and Poetics Today.
Period of affiliation:
2020 - 2021
The project examines immunization through the figure of Charlie Chaplin, which dominated early-Soviet discourses on cinema as a means of promoting healthy work culture for the proletariat. Like vaccination, which was an important tool of managing the masses in a country where health was rapidly re-conceptualised as a state concern, cinema was expected to play an important role in moulding the Soviet worker. The purpose of the project is to explore the theoretical potential of vaccination and immunity, which were employed in literature and film theory of the first decade after the Russian revolution to construct film as a kinaesthetic tool of labour education. Through this apparatus, Chaplin became an unlikely agent of “labour vaccination.” Methodologically, the project is inspired by a relatively recent turn towards the history of biosciences in literary studies and film studies. I argue that Chaplin’s position in Soviet culture acquires unique theoretical significance when seen in conjunction with theories that advocate cinema as a tool of ideological vaccination capable of transmitting knowledge about bodily efficiency and labour optimization. Through an interdisciplinary approach my book and accompanying articles will uncover a largely neglected area of Soviet film and cultural history, showing how earlier constructions of vaccination helps us reconsider current discourses of bio-cultural contagion.