In Early June Dr Curro returned from three weeks in Georgia in which she supervised the filming for the gulagechoes video. The deteriorating research environment in Russia over the past year meant that we had to abandon our previous plan to make a project video recording the experiences of ethnic minority former prisoners in FSIN’s facilities. We decided to shift the site of filming to Gorgia and focus of the video on ‘prison work’ in the late Soviet period. The late Soviet period in the USSR has been much neglected in research on the history of the Soviet prison system and we aim to use our film to begin to fill in the gap. During her previous field trips to Georgia, Dr Curro has worked in a settlement near Kutaisi that was host until the 1990s to a collection of correctional labour colonies developed to provide labour for the tea plantations. A majority of the older population in Khoni were associated with the correctional colony in some capacity and were prepared to share their reminisces about working in the Soviet prison system with our project.
On June 16-18, Dr Costanza Curro and Dr Vakhtang Kekoshvili attended the international conference ‘Socialism’s divergent masculinities: Representations of male subjectivities in Soviet constellations and beyond’, organized by Dr Matthias Schwartz and Dr Dirk Uffelmann at the Leibniz-Zentrum fur Literatur-und Kulturforschung (ZfL) in Berlin. The conference, which was originally scheduled in June 2020 and was postponed twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted around 20 cultural and media studies, literature and social sciences scholars from German, American, British, Finnish, Georgian and French academic institutions. The conference papers explored the aesthetic representations of male subjectivities beyond the normative hegemony established by Soviet official propaganda from a variety of perspectives – film and music, satirical press, ethnography and literary production, amongst others. Participants discussed the discrepancies between socialist-realist and neo-traditionalist images and the multitude of divergent male subjectivities produced by Soviet everyday life, which somehow found their way into artistic and cultural representations. Such representations, we assumed, are a prism through which social and cultural changes can be analyzed. Dr Curro and Dr Kekoshvili’s presented a paper titled ‘The thieves in law in Georgia: Resilient, resisting or fallen masculinities?’, which investigated the masculinities attached to figure of the kanonieri kurdi (thief in law in Georgian) in the narratives and practices emerged from their recent fieldwork in Western Georgia.
During the visit, she had consultations with lawyers on the operation of the ICC in relation to the alleged war crimes in the Ukraine war She also gave a paper at a one-day workshop on the impact of the war in Ukraine with reference on the agricultural and rural economies of the region. He paper addressed the issue of how the resources of rural and peripheral regions in Russia are being mobilized for the war in Ukraine, which include consideration of the role of the prison service and prison volunteers in the war.