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Accepted Paper:

The Birth of a New Human Being: The Utopian Project of the Late Soviet Water Birth Movement and Its Inheritors  
Anna Ozhiganova (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Paper short abstract:

Could the idea of natural childbirth childbirth form a kind of technology, the goal of which is a radical transformation of a human being? I describe the history of a utopian project that originated in the USSR in the 1970s-1980s, its current transformations, and their futuristic implications.

Paper long abstract:

At the center of my research is a utopian project that originated in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and reached the peak of its popularity in the 1980s. The aim of the method developed by Igor Charkovsky was the creation of "a new human being" possessing supernormal abilities - a sensitive or a baby dolphin. The method includes intensive training of pregnant woman (swimming, diving, cold strengthening and gymnastics), giving birth in water (ideally, in the ocean); the baby and the placenta staying underwater; baby yoga immediately after the cutting of the umbilical cord; the parents helping the baby to swim and dive 8-9 hours a day from the first day of life; the baby breastfeeding, sleeping, and playing in the water; cold strengthening via ice hole dipping; and physical contact and metaphysical connection with dolphins, which are considered representatives of some other civilization.

The idea of creating a super-human by the use of different natural perinatal technologies serves as a source of inspiration in Russian New Age groups, in particular the "Anastasia" movement.

I describe the history of Charkovky's movement, its current transformations, and their futuristic implications. I refer to the concepts of biopolitics and of counter-conduct as a specific "revolt of conduct" (M. Foucault, M. Dean) to describe the causes and nature of the movement. In effect, this movement constitutes a protest, a way to get rid of a controlling and overseeing state by transforming (strengthening) the body and mind.

Panel P091a
Body/mind as space(s) of struggle and experiment: explorations, expansions and experience(s) of human limits
  Session 1 Friday 24 July, 2020, -