"Man - the Finest of Machines": Transforming Human Nature Through Mental Hygiene in the United States and Soviet Russia, 1900-1930s.

Dudaronak, Yuliya, Sociology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Kumar, Jagdish, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Makarova, Ekaterina, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Olick, Jeffrey, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Megill, Allan, Department of History, University of Virginia

In 1908 the National Committee for Mental Hygiene was founded in the US to deal with such social problems of modernity as "nervousness", through the scientific control of behavior. In the 1920s the young Soviet State looked to Americans models of care to relieve the strain of modern industrial society. During the 1930 International Conference of Mental Hygiene, Soviet advances in this area were re-imported into the US. Based on a variety of archival and scholarly literature, this dissertation explores how the Mental Hygiene movement was adopted by the States and the ways in which it influenced the organization of national health and education systems. This dissertation contributes to the growing body of literature on the transnational flows of knowledge as selective and creative process that change the nature of knowledge in the first place. This dissertation sets out to explore this circulation – or "looping" – of knowledge across national boundaries even within a largely hostile political environment.
This case of knowledge circulation and application is particularly challenging as it goes against current theories that almost exclusively tie the so-called "therapeutic state" to the liberal mode of citizenship (Nolan Jr 1998; Polsky 1993; Bondi 2005; Chandler 2001; Furedi 2002; Garton 2008; Illouz 2008; Kantola 2003; Pupavac 2005; Wright 2009; Imber 2004). Comparing Soviet and US examples shows how the therapeutic ethos can be used to champion a variety of modes of governance and thus helps to identify cultural mechanisms for incorporating citizens.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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