By Julie S. Draskoczy
Containing analyses of every thing from prisoner poetry to album covers, Belomor: illegal activity and Creativity in Stalin's Gulag strikes past the simplistic good/evil paradigm that regularly accompanies Gulag scholarship. whereas acknowledging the normative strength of Stalinism--an ethos so hegemonic it desired to harness the very mechanisms of inspiration--the quantity additionally acknowledges many of the loopholes provided via creative expression. maybe the main notorious undertaking of Stalin's first Five-Year Plan, the Belomor development used to be riddled through paradox, particularly the truth that it created a huge waterway that was once too shallow for giant crafts. much more major, and sinister, is that the venture received the backing of recognized artistic luminaries who enthusiastically professed the doctrine of self-fashioning. Belomor complicates our knowing of the Gulag by means of taking a look at either prisoner motivation and respectable reaction from a number of angles, thereby providing a extra expansive imaginative and prescient of the exertions camp and its connection to Stalinism.
“Julie Draskoczy’s Belomor: illegal activity and Creativity in Stalin’s Gulag is a well-conceived and carefully researched learn of unknown, but actually very important, facets of the Belomor camp, a key web site of Stalin’s Gulag. This examine sticks out via its cautious archival learn into interesting prisoner writings produced within the camps―autobiographies in addition to literary makes an attempt submitted to the camp newspaper Perekovka. The physique of unpublished prisoner writings that Draskoczy has studied in Moscow files are ‘live’ bills of camp existence, but, as Draskoczy conscientiously exhibits, they're hugely mediated representations of the writers and their camp reviews, advanced texts that could proportion narrative ideas with either futurist and socialist realist paintings. Given the numerous various literary and cultural layers that make up those writings, it takes a discerning and an expert reader to do justice to the complexity of the fabric. Draskoczy rose to this problem, and has produced a really appropriate, insightful, and readable study.” (Cristina Vatulescu, affiliate Professor of Comparative Literature, ny University)
. . . [T]he booklet bargains an in-depth research of the titanic number of narratives, voices, and performative acts hooked up to the Belomor venture understood as a enterprise to remodel either nature and prisoners. such a lot apparently Draskoczy bargains a clean view on camp adventure within the early Thirties, leaving the traditional narrative of political prisoners apart in desire of the point of view of criminals, who as a rule constituted the most workforce inside of Gulag society and at whom the concept that of perekovka was once before everything aimed.” (Felicitas Fischer von Weikersthal The Russian assessment, October 2014 factor (Vol. seventy three, No. 4))
“The most eminent characteristic of this ebook is among the unpublished fabric it contains and its research as provided by means of the writer. This, including the big variety of cultural gadgets analysed (art, theatre, poetry, autobiographies, songs, chastushki, tattoos, etc.), testifies to the tremendous helpful paintings performed through the writer, who controlled to get over Russian country files and from secondary resources a really fascinating set of fabric for her paintings. . . . [T]here isn't any doubt concerning the caliber of this study, which the writer has conducted with devotion, enthusiasm, and―interestingly enough―creativity. . . . Draskoczy’s ebook is without doubt one of the few monographs dedicated to the research of creativity in the camp. It exhibits how insightful, inspirational, striking, and efficient learn at the Gulag from inside of, utilizing the files written or created by means of prisoners throughout the time they spent there, can be.” (Andrea Gullotta (University of Glasgow) smooth Language evaluation, quantity a hundred and ten, half four, October 2015)
"Julie Draskoczy’s new research. . . is the 1st to systematically study a trove of Belomor prisoner narratives held in Russian kingdom documents. through interpreting such narratives in dialog with better-known paintings produced by means of prisoners and nonprisoners, she explores the subjectivities of these who took half during this enormous, and lethal, development venture. As she discovers, there has been awesome variety in how prisoners answered to camp officials’ common encouragement to take part in literary endeavors. the end result, Draskoczy argues, is that prisoner narratives can be utilized to realize a greater knowing of the connection among creativity and illegal activity within the gulag, in addition to the inventive and damaging potentials of Stalinism." (Alan Barenberg, Texas Tech collage Slavic evaluation, vol. seventy four, no. four (Winter 2015))
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Additional resources for Belomor: Criminality and Creativity in Stalin's Gulag
165 The repeated emphasis on birth renders the canal’s construction organic, making an assault on nature appear to be a natural phenomenon. Perekovka, with its goal being the “production” of new people, injects an industrial emphasis into the process of re-forging prisoners—an entirely appropriate tone given the concentration on manufacturing during Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan. One prisoner likens the canal to a “smithy” where everyday life transforms consciousness,166 and another compares the camp to a “life factory,” where people are remade like so many products on a conveyor belt—albeit in a highly unusual way: “Yes, strange, unusual transformations are made here.
Lenin, therefore, actively supported research on the criminal realm in the 1920s and sought to create Soviet specialists in criminology. The Moscow Soviet created the Moscow Bureau for the Study of the Criminal Personality and Crime (Moskovskii kabinet po izucheniiu lichnosti prestupnika i prestupnosti) in 1923 in an attempt to understand and pre— 45 — ——————————————————— Chapter One ——————————————————— vent crime in the turbid world of post-revolutionary chaos. While such Soviet organizations tried to understand crime as a scientific phenomenon, historically the Russian people had a long tradition of sympathy to thieves.
While there are trials or mishaps along the way, the hero eventually fulfills the task and completes the journey to consciousness, often with the help of a mentor to guide them along the path. At Belomor, the hero is the criminal who arrives at the separate, enclosed world of the Gulag camp. The task is the construction of the canal, a building process echoed metaphorically by the reconstruction of the criminal’s personality. The mentor developed in classic socialist realist texts is mirrored by the vospitatel’, or educator-reformer, a figure who is paramount in facilitating the re-forging of the criminal.