Producing, Consuming & Perceiving Prisons in the Former Soviet UnionIn The Gulag's Shadow
Work begins on ethnographic observation in St Petersburg (01/07/2019)

We've welcomed two fantastic researchers from the Higher School of Economics-St Petersburg (HSE) to the team.

Starting in St Petersburg in July, Irina Lisovskaya and Alena Kravtsova from the HSE spent a month at the State History Museum conducting focus groups, observations and interviews. Further observation began at a second site, the NKVD Museum in Tomsk in November. Further sites are coming and we’re excited to see the results from their work. Stay tuned! (Photo credits: Irina Lisovskaya, Alena Kravtsova, Gavin Slade)

The St Petersburg museum covers Russia’s political history through exhibits and displays

‘The dictatorship of the proletariat was successful because it could bring together coercion and persuasion’

Our particular interest was in representations of the Gulag and Stalinism


A review of the museum from a Gulag survivor and vistor to the museum in 1989. We also did tours and interviews with former prisoners to understand their perceptions of how prison and punishment is represented in the museum.

This area of the museum was the only one dedicated to the Gulag

‘Museum exhibitions, like any artistic product, awakens associations, brings out ideas, thoughts and feelings. It is a world of meaning, significant aspects, symbols and aesthetic categories.’

Tackling the big questions

The team also visited and spent time at the Fountain House where Anna Akhmetova lived and today contains a museum dedicated to her life, work and fate.

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