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The New Biology as an Example of Newspeak: The Case of Polish Zoology, 1948-1956.

Authors
  • Strządała, Agata1
  • 1 Department of Humanistic Sciences in Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Wroclaw Medical University, Wybrzeże L. Pasteura 1, 50-367, Wrocław, Poland. [email protected] , (Poland)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of the history of biology
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2020
Volume
53
Issue
1
Pages
141–157
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10739-020-09594-6
PMID: 32078711
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The "New Biology" that arose in the Eastern Block during Stalinist times was based on the idea of the heritability of acquired characteristics. In rejecting the paradigm of Mendelian chromosome genetics as well as science-based farming, the New Biology led to a deterioration of scientific life and the free exchange of ideas. In imposing Lysenko's ideas onto zoology, the New Biology adopted the totalitarian language of Newspeak, which dominated public discourse in communist countries. Newspeak had several defining elements: a limited dictionary, strong valuations, binary oppositions, the magical function of language, militarization, and ritualization of language. In this study, the concept of Newspeak is used to analyze primary sources (publications, speeches, and conference discussions) in Polish zoology in the period between 1948 and 1956. Once the practice of Newspeak began to wane, so did the New Biology that had been founded on this specific ritualistic language.

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