Event Date: 17 November 2015
Royal Holloway University of London
Departmental Research seminars 2015/2016
Dr Daniel Beer (RHUL) – The Crucible: Revolution and Repression in Siberia’s Prisons, 1905-1914
In the wake of the failed 1905 Revolution tens of thousands of radicals were condemned by military tribunals to penal labour in Siberia. Many saw Siberia’s jails and exile settlements as a new battlefield in an ongoing war against the tsarist state and went on to stage violent protests against their captors. The tsarist authorities reacted with a brutal crackdown: the use of corporal and capital punishment became commonplace. Revolutionaries, prison officials and a range of commentators in the courts and in the press applauded and condemned certain acts of violence as invasive or restorative, legitimate or illegitimate. The paper will discuss how acts of violence perpetrated both inside and outside Siberia’s prisons rehearsed a wider contestation of political power and sovereignty in the Russian Empire. The experience of captivity and violent repression in Siberia became a rite of passage for the men and women who would, within a decade, rule Russia.