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Products for grant FA-55708-11

A Gulag History: The Violence of Everyday Life
Golfo Alexopoulos, University of South Florida

Grant details:

“Destructive-Labor Camps: Rethinking Solzhenitsyn’s Play on Words” (Article)
Title: “Destructive-Labor Camps: Rethinking Solzhenitsyn’s Play on Words”
Author: Golfo Alexopoulos
Abstract: Human exploitation—unrelenting, punitive, and increasingly brutal-- constituted the defining feature of Stalin’s Gulag. Once we examine the Gulag through the lens of exploitation, then its willfully destructive capacity becomes apparent. As Solzhenitsyn argued, the system of physical exploitation in the Stalinist camps reveals that the Gulag was designed for destruction. Stalin concealed the Gulag’s destructive capacity, and kept death rates in the camps low by releasing millions of prisoners on the verge of death. Within the barbed wire, prison laborers were constituted, managed, and discarded as human raw material. To thoroughly wring prisoners of their productive capacity, the Gulag established categories of physical labor capability. With each iteration of the physical labor categories and each revision of the List of Illnesses, the OGPU-NKVD-MVD and Gulag leadership tried to force a larger population of ailing prisoners into heavy physical labor. The exploitation of inmates’ labor only intensified over time, while officials concealed the Gulag’s brutality through the routine release of invalid and chronically ill prisoners. The Gulag system exhaustively depleted and inhumanely discarded its prison laborers. These were destructive-labor camps.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: This is the webpage for the journal Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Soviet History.
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History
Publisher: Slavica Publishers

Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin's Gulag (Book)
Title: Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin's Gulag
Author: Golfo Alexopoulos
Editor: William Frucht
Abstract: In a shocking new study of life and death in Stalin’s Gulag, historian Golfo Alexopoulos suggests that Soviet forced labor camps were driven by brutal exploitation and often administered as death camps. Drawing on recently declassified archives, the author examines camp operations, prisoners’ food rations and illnesses, the system of human exploitation and patterns of inmate release, and finds that the state’s demand for a continual supply of perishable labor resulted in Gulag detention for even the pettiest of criminal offenses, and the death of an estimated six million prisoners. The first study to examine the Gulag penal system through the lens of health, medicine, and human exploitation, this extraordinary work draws from previously inaccessible archives to offer a chilling new view of one of the pillars of Stalinist terror.
Year: 2017
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Amazon books
Access Model: yes
Publisher: Yale University Press
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: No

Medical Research in Stalin's Gulag (Article)
Title: Medical Research in Stalin's Gulag
Author: Golfo Alexopoulos
Abstract: Recently declassified Gulag archives reveal for the first time that the Stalinist leadership established medical research laboratories in the camps. The present work offers an initial reading of the medical research conducted by and on prisoners in Stalin’s Gulag. Although Gulag science did not apparently possess the lethal character of Nazi medicine, neither was this work entirely benign. I argue that the highly constrained environment of the Stalinist camps distorted medical science. Scientists were forced to produce work agreeable to their Gulag administrators. Thus they remained silent regarding the context of mass starvation and forced labor, and often perpetuated Gulag myths concerning the nature of diseases and the threat of deceptive patients. Rather than aggressive treatment to save lives, they often engaged in clinical observations of dead or dying patients. At the same time, a few courageous scientists challenged the Gulag system in their research, in both subtle and overt ways.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: The journal webpage
Format: Journal
Publisher: John's Hopkins University Press