The Rehabilitation of the Non-human (and Human) Animal as a Mission of Sexuality: The Case of Vasily Rozanov
Henrietta Mondry (Languages and Cultures, Canterbury )
This research argues that the largest project of rehabilitation of the non-human animal in Russian fin-de-siecle culture took place in the work of Vasily Rozanov (1856-1919).
In his self-proclaimed mission of sexuality ("propoved' pola") Rozanov attempted to remove the prejudices and stigmas attached to the biological body as fostered by Christianity and Western sciences.
Rozanov consistently challenged the Cartesian dualism between body and soul, which he saw as resulting from the binarisms imposed by Christianity.
These binarisms were based on the perceived hierarchies of humans and animals in which the human body, when separated from the spirit, was equated with the animal body.
Rozanov attempted to dismantle the hierarchical binaries of spirit/matter, head/body and intellect/physiology, maintaining that the Russian Church in particular had stigmatised the non-human animal which in turn resulted in the neglect and lack of respect for the human body.
This paper will demonstrate how Rozanov used examples of positive treatment of non-human animals in Ancient Egypt as a platform for his project to save the Russian family from disintegration and to improve the authority of the Russian church. His project was aimed at the rehabilitation of the non-human and human animal as a means to bring warmth and strength into the relationships between family members. In this his project stands as an example of what theorists Deleuze and Guattari term the "Oedipal animal" as opposed to the more highly praised state of "becoming-animal".