Varieties of Ideology Critique in Early Soviet Literary and Oriental Scholarship

Craig Brandist


This article discusses the importance of the ideology critique of Indo-European philology for the development of literary and oriental studies in the USSR in the 1920s and 1930s. It shows how two distinct types of critique were developed, one which accepted the validity of factual data generated by the formal methods of philology while rejecting the principles of generalisation and conceptualisation that accompanied them, and another which rejected previous forms of scholarship in their entirety as expressions of a bourgeois will to power. Representatives of each trend are considered, with particular attention given to the Indologist Mikhail Tubyanskiy, the Japanologist Nikolay Konrad, and the controversial philologist Nikolay Marr. It is also shown that early Soviet approaches have exerted a formative influence on contemporary postcolonial theory and that consideration of the contours of the former have significant lessons for the latter.

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