Université de Strasbourg

Fellows Seminar - Communism, Space and Trans-Species Kinship: Two Cold War Histories

January 14, 2021
From 17:00 until 18:15

By Tijana Vujosevic, 2018 Fellow

When we think about kinship, we think about real as well as fictional biological connections that shape how we relate to each other. Kinship defines whom we understand as similar, or “akin” to us. It also shapes how we imagine the space we make and inhabit. This lecture looks at a specific moment in history – the first decade of the Cold War - when East and West, the Global North and the Global South competed in their efforts to lead the international community, imagined as “the family of man”. Non-human animals have so far been absent from the history of this particular kinship-making effort.

This project examines role of non-humans in the system of inter-racial, inter-cultural, inter-continental kinships created in Communist Cold War narratives and space-making practices. The first case study presented in this lecture, on the exchange and circulation of “wild” animals within the Nonaligned movement, will discuss the economic role of animals as tokens and representations of human liaisons. The second case study is on the spectacular trips of Space Dogs and their role in the production of Cosmos as a universal human frontier. Here, we will look at the complex relationship between dog and a peculiar aesthetic of ambivalent kinship, or “a-kinship”, which defined the dog’s position in the “family of man”, as she stood in for this family’s celestial aspirations.

Our ultimate goal is to recognize our non-human kin as participants in the production of human space, producers that are always placed in an asymmetrical relationship with their human counterparts but which are key to our relationships, as we built more inclusive notions of economy, aesthetics and cultural space.


France 2030