GULAGECHOES has strong synergies with the Academy of Finland project “Yugoslavian Penal Nationalism”. In February 2023, Professor Judith Pallot, PI of both projects, accompanied Brendan Humphreys, lead researcher of the Yugoslavian project to Croatia on the invitation of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia, or Republika Hrvatska. The Ministry arranged interviews with staff of the Directorate for Prisons and Probation and at the high security prison in Lepoglava. In this blog Brendan Humphreys writes about what he learned during the visit about the history prison reform in Croatia.
In the first of two blog posts, Myhkailo Romanov, visiting fellow from Kharkiv, describes the impact of Russian’s war on the penitentiary system of Ukraine. In this post he focuses on the impact of the war has had on the penitentiary institutions on the country, including those that were stranded, together with their prisoners, by the rapid advance of the Russian army into eastern Ukraine but were subsequently liberated in September 2022. He describes what human rights defenders from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) found in the liberated prisons.
It will be recalled that GULAGECHOES and the Yugoslavian Penal Nationalism projects applied successfully to the Academy of Finland for funding to bring a Ukrainian scholar at risk to the Aleksanteri Institute. As he is of conscription age, Mykhailo is only allowed out of Ukraine for short periods, so we are especially delighted that he has been able to make a second visit to the institute. Whilst here he will be working on a couple of co-authored articles on the different trajectories followed by the Ukrainian and Russian prison systems and on comparisons of wartime carceral practices in the Yugoslavian civil war and in the Russia war on Ukraine. He will also continue discussions on the treatment and fate of people seized by the Russian occupiers in Eastern Ukraine and takin g the opportunity to bring his findings to a wide audience.
Every year one of the keynote slots at the BASEES conference adopts an interview format. Last year, Judith interviewed leading BBC journalist Sarah Rainsford about her experience reporting form Russia and Ukraine. This year on April 1st 2023, it was Judith’s turn to be interviewed, by Sarah Badcock, about her experiences researching Russia over her forty-year career in area studies. The interview can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36jI_-3G5Cg
The BASEES conference moved this year from its normal venue in Cambridge to Glasgow. The core members of the Gulagechoes team travelled to Scotland to take up the opportunity to present the project’s findings to a larger than usual audience and to network with scholars from across Europe and further afield. We had formed a joint panel with Gavin Slade and Laura Piacentini’s UK-funded project “In the shadow of the gulag” with which gulagechoes has strong synergies. The title of the panel was “From Bamlag to Ukraine: intersections of Class, Ethnicity, and Nationality in the Context of Punishment 1930-2023”.
The session, which was chaired by new Gulagechoes team member Yuliya Brin, kicked off with Mikhail Nakonechnyi presenting the results of his work with the archival materials he has collected on the policy towards ethnic minority prisoners in Bamlag. Gavin Slade followed with a paper on decarceration and punitiveness in Russia today. Olga Zeveleva shifted the focus to outside Russia with her paper on the interconnections between ethnicity and class in prisons in the Baltic states which drew on the interviews she took with former prisoners in ‘Russian region’ in eastern Estonia. And Judith Pallot rounded the session off with a discussion of the various ways in which the Russian prison system has been reconfigured to support Russia’s war on Ukraine. There were good questions from the floor which could have continued had we not run out of time.
We welcome submissions to the 22nd Annual Aleksanteri Conference
This year’s conference will address changes in the relationships within and between the former communist countries of theGlobal East, by which we mean the region that has been labelled as post/former -Soviet, -socialist, -communist, -imperial.
In particular, we encourage colleagues to propose panels and papers that address the conference’s principal themes of legal choices, political transformations,and carceral practices. We also welcome submissions on recent research across a broad range of disciplines, including (but not limited to) law, geography, politics, history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, literature and language, and international relations.
Our researcher Yuliya Brin presented her work at the Aleksanteri Institute today. Her presentation was accompanied by a poster on her dissertation findings. She investigates how traditional values impact domestic violence legislation using the example of the Istanbul Convention ratification in Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.
Both the Horizon 2020 GULAGECHOES and Academy of Finland Yugoslavian Penal Nationalism project teams are delighted that Professor Gavin Slade arrived in January on a two-month visiting fellowship from Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan. Gavin is a penal sociologist one of the leading western authorities on the post-communist prison systems of Europe and Asia.
He is the author of numerous articles in leading criminological journals and of the OUP monograph “Reorganizing crime: Mafia and anti-Mafia in post-Soviet Georgia.” (2013). He is best known for his work on the Georgian Vory-v-Zakony but in recent years his research interests have expanded to embrace the Central Asia and the Baltics states. He has collaborated with both Costanza Curro and Olga Zeveleva, both of the Gulagechoes team, on articles on Georgia, Lithuania and Estonia, and has been a member of the Gulagechoes ethics advisory board from the beginning of the project.
He has recently finished a UK Economic and Social Research Council-funded project on memory and public attitudes to imprisonment in Russia and Kazakhstan and it currently developing work on governance in post-communist prison systems. He is presenting his latest work at the Aleksanteri seminar on 28th February at 3pm in the Humina Room, Metsätalo.
1st-2nd December 2022, Judith Pallot travelled to Tampere to attend a symposium “Spaces of Confinement” that marked the end of Päivi Kymäläinen’s project.
The symposium brought together a star line up of carceral geographers, including Professor Dominique Moran and Professor Chris Philo from the UK and Ebba Högström from Sweden, and Virve Repo and Riina Lundman, from the ‘home team’. Judith was on a round table with Sami Pirkola, Lauri Kuosmanen and Virve Repo which discussed “Care and Control practices in Institutions” from the perspectives of prisons, care homes, forensic and regular psychological hospitals.
Both the Horizon 2020 GULAGECHOES and Academy of Finland Yugoslavian Penal Nationalism project were delighted finally to be able to welcome Mykhailo Romanov to the Aleksanteri Institute for one month’s study leave.
Mykhailo is joining both projects for the next two years, funded by an Academy of Finland grant for Ukrainian scholars. As Mykhailo is of an age to be mobilized into the Ukrainian armed forces, he will only be able to make occasional short-term visits to Helsinki. In addition to his university post as Associate Professor of the Penal Law and Criminology department of the Yaroslav Mydriy National Law University (Kharkiv) and Poltava University of Economics and Trade, Mykhailo works on a voluntary basis with the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection NGO, which among other projects, is engaged in preparing reports on the human rights violations in the liberated territories in Kharkiv oblast. Whilst here Mykhailo is working on joint comparative articles with Judith and Brendan, on the Ukrainian prison system, and developing networks with human rights lawyers.