Apr 8, 2022 • 1HR 59M

Lenin's flesh (and no blood)

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Yasha Levine
Evgenia Kovda
A podcast by Evgenia Kovda and Yasha Levine.

Today on The Russians, Evgenia and I talk to Alexei Yurchak about his work on Lenin and the history and politics of the ongoing preservation of Lenin’s body and the secretive lab that carries out the job. He is currently finishing a book about the topic, which he expects to be out in time for the 100-year anniversary of Lenin’s embalmment.

Alexei is a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley. He is probably best known for coining the term “hypernormalization” — a concept that Adam Curtis built a whole documentary around a few years ago and even called the film “HyperNormalisation.”

A couple of notes.

Alexei Yurchak’s book on Lenin’s body is not out yet, but you can get a preview by reading a paper he published on the topic a few years ago: “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty.

Towards the end of the episode, we discuss Sergey Kuryokhin’s infamous 1991 stunt on Leningrad TV about Lenin being a mushroom. Here is the paper Alexei referenced: “A Parasite From Outer Space: How Sergei Kurekhin proved that Lenin was a mushroom.”

Alexei mentioned a book on Lenin he liked. Here it is: Lenin's Last Struggle. There’s also another book rec he gave, one about parasites.

And of course he’s a link to Alexei’s book — Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More.

—Yasha Levine

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Want to know more? Listen to our episode on Adam Curtis: “Adam Curtis, get out of my head.” And check out previous episodes of The Russians.