CEERES of Voices: Anya Bernstein - "The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia" - Eugene Raikhel

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Anya Bernstein

Anya Bernstein will discuss The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia. She will be joined in conversation by Eugene Raikhel.

Presented in partnership with the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies (CEERES)

Virtual event

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About the book: As long as we have known death, we have dreamed of life without end. In The Future of Immortality, Anya Bernstein explores the contemporary Russian communities of visionaries and utopians who are pressing at the very limits of the human. The Future of Immortality profiles a diverse cast of characters, from the owners of a small cryonics outfit to scientists inaugurating the field of biogerontology, from grassroots neurotech enthusiasts to believers in the Cosmist ideas of the Russian Orthodox thinker Nikolai Fedorov. Bernstein puts their debates and polemics in the context of a long history of immortalist thought in Russia, with global implications that reach to Silicon Valley and beyond. If aging is a curable disease, do we have a moral obligation to end the suffering it causes? Could immortality be the foundation of a truly liberated utopian society extending beyond the confines of the earth—something that Russians, historically, have pondered more than most? If life without end requires radical genetic modification or separating consciousness from our biological selves, how does that affect what it means to be human? As vividly written as any novel, The Future of Immortality is a fascinating account of techno-scientific and religious futurism—and the ways in which it hopes to transform our very being.

About the author: Anya Bernstein is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. Her first book, Religious Bodies Politic: Rituals of Sovereignty in Buryat Buddhism (University of Chicago Press, 2013), was the winner of the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion from the American Academy of Religion and an Honorable Mention for the Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. As a visual anthropologist Bernstein has directed, filmed, and produced several award-winning documentary films on Buryat Buddhism and shamanism, including Join Me in Shambhala (2002) and In Pursuit of the Siberian Shaman (2006).

About the interlocutor: Eugene Raikhel is the current director of CEERES and an Associate Professor in the department of Comparative Human Development. His book Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic was published by Cornell University Press in the Fall of 2016.

About the series: CEERES, pronounced /ˈsirēz/, is the acronym for the University of Chicago Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies. Together with the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, we are delighted to announce the launch of the CEERES of Voices Event Series, an author-centered series of readings and conversations on books from or about Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Eurasia, and the Caucasus. The books being discussed are identified in a various ways: through publishers’ contacts with the bookstore or through faculty requests to CEERES to host the author.

Event Location: 
Virtual