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Death and RedemptionThe Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society$
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Steven A. Barnes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151120

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151120.001.0001

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Categorizing Prisoners: The Identities of the Gulag

Categorizing Prisoners: The Identities of the Gulag

(p.79) Chapter 3 Categorizing Prisoners: The Identities of the Gulag
Death and Redemption

Steven A. Barnes

Princeton University Press

This chapter offers a conceptualization of the identities of Gulag inmates as foisted on them by Soviet authorities and as understood by the prisoners themselves. Identity in the Gulag operated primarily along two axes: who the prisoner was prior to their arrival in the Gulag, and who the prisoner had become while in the Gulag. When a prisoner arrived in the Gulag, they stepped right into a matrix of identity in which they held a specific place defined by the type of crime committed, or their gender, class, or national identity. Nonetheless, the prisoner was not completely precluded from improving their position in the eyes of Soviet authorities.

Keywords:   Gulag, Soviet Union, prisoners, inmates, identity, prisons

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