Rationalizing the Prisoner: State Coercion and Modernization in Stalin’s Gulag

Through an examination of two different aspects of the Soviet Gulag camp system, the cultivation of prisoner inventors and the use of prisoner bodies to develop medical protocols for hard labor, the lecture will explore the ways in which the Gulag was a manifestation of the intersection between state violence and the modernist impulse of rationalization of the Bolshevik state.

Asif Siddiqi is a professor in the history of science and technology at Fordham University in New York. He is the author of many books and articles on the history of science including The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He most recently edited a special issue of History and Technology on technology in modern South Asia. He is currently working on a number of projects including one on the intersection of scientific expertise and the making of the Stalinist Gulag, and another on the intellectual, political, and institutional history of the foundational years of the Indian space program.

Ravi Sundaram is Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018
5 pm, CSDS Seminar Room