“Kolyma Fraternity”: The Problem of Social Identity of Political Detainees (Based on the Memoirs of Zoia Marchenko)

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Vladislav Pocheptsov


This essay is devoted to the problem of how victims of political terror in the USSR and prisoners of the Gulag formed social identities. The author’s hypothesis is that Soviet political detainees in the 1930s–1950s were characterized by peculiar type of social self-consciousness alternative to both a general civic identity and a criminal identity. These people were not treated as criminals in the internal prisoner community, which had its own subculture, traditions, and hierarchy. At the same time, they suffered from ostracism by their Soviet compatriots. Another component of their identity stemmed from particular traumatic experiences that could not be shared with others. The research is based on the memoirs of Zoia Marchenko, currently located in the archive of International Memorial Civil Rights Society. In Russian.


Gulag, Memoirs, Memorial Society, Political Repressions

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