The Centre for Systems Studies
Online, 2 - 3 June
Two Events Celebrating the Life and Contribution of Alexander Bogdanov
Alexander Bogdanov was one of the most creative and inspiring figures of the 20th Century. His utopian novel, Red Star, started the genre of Bolshevik science fiction, and he was the founder of the world’s first haematology institute. He was a leader of the Russian Bolsheviks, working with Lenin, at the turn of the last century, and he produced the first systematic study of ideology, consciousness, and cultural hegemony from a Marxian point of view, decades before the emergence of so-called critical, western, or neo-Marxist approaches.
The year 2021 marks the centenary of the beginning of the demise of Bogdanov. Lenin republished his Materialism and Empiriocriticsm and launched an attack on Proletkult in 1920, which resulted in Bogdanov stepping down from his role in this movement in the following year. With Stalin’s rise to power and Bogdanov’s early death in 1928, one of the most significant contributions made to human culture was lost for several decades.
The rediscovery of Bogdanov’s work began in Russia in the 1960s. Official recognition of Bogdanov and his place in history occurred in the Glasnost and Perestroika period of the late 1980s. Since then, Bogdanov’s work has gained increasing acclaim in his homeland and beyond. As renowned systems thinker Fritjof Capra famously pointed out, Bogdanov’s “Tektology was the first attempt in the history of science to arrive at a systematic formulation of the principles of organization operating in living and nonliving systems”. Since Capra made this claim in 1996, Bogdanov has been recognised as the first systematiser of systems thinking. However, the deserved global full recovery and recognition of Bogdanov’s contribution has yet to come about. But, a century after the beginning of his demise, it seems like a breakthrough is happening. In 2019, the first Systems World of Bogdanov conference was organised by the Financial University in Moscow, with more than 105 papers being presented. The second of these biennial conferences is planned for the autumn of 2021.
With the aim of promoting awareness of Bogdanov’s work, the Centre for Systems Studies is hosting two associated events that celebrate his life and contribution. The first of these events is the Annual Mike Jackson Lecture and the second one is an online mini-symposium. Please note that you will need to register for each event separately (registering for one doesn’t automatically give you access to the other):
The Annual Mike Jackson Lecture
‘Relational Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and Alexander Bogdanov’s Worldview’ by Carlo Rovelli
1.30pm – 3.30pm (BST), 2 June 2021, Online
This year, the Annual Mike Jackson Lecture will be delivered by the celebrated theoretical physicist, the founder of Relational Quantum Mechanics, and best-selling author of popular science books, Carlo Rovelli.
Rovelli’s latest book, Helgoland, came out in English in March. In Helgoland, Rovelli gives special thanks to two historical figures. The first of these is Werner Heisenberg, who discovered the fundamental equations of quantum mechanics. The other is Alexander Bogdanov. Both Heisenberg and Bogdanov, Rovelli argues, have significantly contributed to our understanding of what quantum theory, one of the two most important achievements of physics in the 20th Century, tells us about the nature of our universe that includes us. Rovelli has not only made a significant contribution through his own relational interpretation of quantum mechanics, he has also advanced understanding and recognition of Bogdanov’s contribution.
This year’s Mike Jackson Lecture will be followed, on 3 June, by an online mini-symposium organised by the Centre for System Studies. Alongside other distinguished speakers, both Mike Jackson and Carlo Rovelli will be participating in this one-day event.
The Mike Jackson Lecture is an annual event at the University of Hull, which has been made possible by a donation from alumnus Andrew Chen in honour of Mike Jackson’s contribution to education and systems thinking.
The Legacy of Alexander Bogdanov- From Rediscovery to Full Recovery.
8.45am – 6.30pm (BST), 3 June 2021, Online
In collaboration with the Financial University of Moscow and the Cybernetics Society (UK)
This online mini-symposium will aim to contribute to the recovery of Bogdanov’s legacy through the exploration of his many and varied contributions. To achieve this aim, the mini-symposium will not only look backwards but also seek to explore the contemporary relevance of Bogdanov’s work to the burning questions of our time, most notably the problems of capitalism, what a post-capitalist future might look like, and climate change.
Involving distinguished speakers and established scholars of Bogdanov’s life and ideas (such as John Biggart, Maria Chehonadskih, Peter Dudley, Noemi Ghetti, Mike Jackson, Viatcheslav Maratcha, Paul Mason, Evgeni Pavlov, Giulia Rispoli, Carlo Rovelli, Orsan Senalp, Svetlana Shchepetova, Maja Soboleva, Daniela Steila, Fabian Tompsett, McKenzie Wark and James White), this event will provide a space for Bogdanov scholars to interact across borders.
We would like to invite you to join us in this exciting encounter and we look forward to seeing you.
Organisers: Orsan Senalp, Fabian Tompsett, Gerald Midgley, Amanda Gregory
The extensive expertise held within the Centre for Systems Studies and Hull University Business School is shared with our partners through collaboration to help individuals and organisations (in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors) to shape the future of business and society.