To do things right and complete, we have just published on our blog the PhD work that our volunteer Katia Rues accomplished in 2007.

The focus is on the soviet Gulags as any mentioning of « Gulag Culture » as an integrant part of Russian Cultural History was banned during 73 years of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, its notion comprises a multitude of realities.

Understanding its complexity requires careful considerations which should be embedded in the context of historical dynamics that governed Soviet society under Josef Stalin. The present research work attempts to address the history of the Gulag through Soviet ideology and culture, namely Performing Arts. Thus the thesis shows that « Gulag Culture » was a subculture in Stalin’s society. It was the embodiment of the prisoners’ civilization that affected thousands, even millions, of « slaves » that the Soviet authorities created as an instrument for an economic need.

The cultural frameworks in the forced labor camps embraced heartily propaganda and political agitation, but, at the same time, the full-fledged theatre companies composed of prisoners (creative intelligentsia representatives) who put great effort in spreading artistic activities within the camps played a very particular role. In some way, the phantasmagoric reality, which reigned in the camp theater, helped to overcome difficulties and an absurdity of the imprisonment. After all, there existed, in the country burdened under the weight of ideology, a « parallel » society with its own mode of life and culture.