Historical memory of the Gulag (3): Contested memory

The failure to establish a central memorial to the victims of the Gulag mentioned in my previous post is part of a problem of contested memory that has been apparent since the demise of the Soviet Union but has escalated in the last decade or so. As Arseny Roginsky’s eloquent essay The Embrace of Stalinism shows, […]

Historical memory of the Gulag (2): Memorials, maps and other memory projects

Since the final years of the Soviet Union, memorializing the victims of the political repressions – in itself a curious formulation that indicates some of the problems associated with this subject – has remained a significant and, to a large extent, unresolved question. Historical memory projects can obviously have all sorts of different aims: the […]

Historical memory of the Gulag (1): Memory books

I’ve been thinking about historical memory of the Gulag and the Stalinist repressions recently whilst working on my book, and have decided to put together a few posts of links relating to the subject. This is partly from my own need to organize the material coherently, and partly because an up-to-date list would, I hope, […]

The Russian Museum in Málaga

Last week I visited the new Spanish outpost of the State Russian Museum, Collección del Museo Ruso in Málaga. I’d read about the plans for it last year, so was delighted that its opening coincided with my stay in Granada, where I’ve been hiding away on research leave and writing my book since early January […]

Modern Languages Open

This week has seen the launch of Modern Languages Open, an open access publishing platform for scholarly research in all modern languages and their cultures – one of the most exciting aspects of the project is that it brings a more global perspective to a field that has traditionally defined itself in relation to Europe and its diasporas. As […]

Katorga and exile illustrated

Whilst planning a section of my chapter on pre-revolutionary works on Siberian prison and exile, I’ve been considering the role of images as well as the words, as many of the books I’ve been reading – at least most of those published after around 1880 in the UK and the States, and after around 1900 […]

Convicts and serfs: two books on Russian penal reform

I’m currently reading and re-reading material for a chapter of my book on narratives of prison, exile and hard labour, and have a few thoughts to put in order in relation to two books on Russian penal reform: Bruce F. Adams, The Politics of Punishment: Prison Reform in Russia 1863-1917 (DeKalb: North Illinois University Press, 1996) Abby […]

No worse than English prisons…

My work on nineteenth-century narratives about Russian imprisonment and exile has not only led me to read the classics that established the genre, notably Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead and Chekhov’s Sakhalin Island, but has also necessitated ploughing through many less celebrated works by both travellers and former prisoners and exiles. (See my previous post […]

The Gulag fantastic?

I have just finished teaching a new cross-cultural course, Tales of the Unexpected, with my colleague Peter Zusi. A whistle-stop tour through the fantastic and supernatural from the Grimm brothers to H. P. Lovecraft, the course has been great fun, but beyond the appearance of Gogol (his Ukrainian folktale ‘Vii’) and Dostoevsky (the classic work […]

Keeping Faith with the Party

I’ve been working on my research project on narratives of imprisonment, hard labour and exile for several years now, and am at last making concrete progress with my book. While I’m completing it, I plan to use the blog to organize my notes by writing short reflection pieces on primary and secondary sources as I read […]

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