This seminar will explore how incarceration has shaped our past, and uses the prison as an entry point into central questions in twentieth century social, political, and legal history. We will define "incarceration" expansively to travel beyond the penitentiary: to prison labor colonies in the Soviet north, Nazi concentration camps, exile, and the American South. While attentive to state policies administered "from above," we will take care to locate the incarcerated individual in the penal systems they inhabited "from below." Readings are drawn primarily from history and memoir literature, and will be supplemented with social theoretical texts, images, film, and recent journalism.
Yana Skorobogatov is a PhD candidate in history at the University of California, Berkeley. A historian of modern Russia and the Soviet Union, her dissertation explores the Soviet party-state’s embrace and use of the death penalty after World War II. Born in Moscow, USSR, she spends her free time freelance writing, open water swimming, brewing kefir, and brainstorming an article-length think piece about her life as a first-generation Russian-American. She can be reached via email at yanaskor(at)berkeley.edu.