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Andrew A. Gentes

My visit to Moscow's Maiakovskii Museum serves as starting point for an exploration, informed by Peter Bürger's Theory of the Avant-Garde, of the influence of the Russian avant-garde and poet Vladimir Maiakovskii's role within this movement. It also queries the essentialism and functionality of the museum dedicated to him, as well as the personal experience of my visit.

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'Licentious girls' and frontier domesticators

Women and Siberian exile from the late 16th to the early 19th centuries

Andrew A. Gentes

This article aims at filling the historiographical gap of the part played by women in the early Siberian exile system. The state exploited both their bodies and labour, forcing them to be sexual pacifiers and producers of babies as well as 'frontier domesticators' in general. First sent in the late sixteenth century, their numbers increased after the Ulozhenie of 1649, which largely replaced the death sentence with exile. Further important stages in development were marked by Peter the Great as part of his construction of a service state and by Catherine the Great using Siberia for the purposes of expanding the population and removing schismatics. By the end of the eighteenth century, just over 50 per cent of more than half a million Russians living in Siberia's rural areas were women, both exiles and 'volunteers'. The article concludes that the treatment of such women impeded later Russian efforts to create a healthy society.

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Andrew A. Gentes

This article presents a first step towards creation of a demographic analysis of Siberia's exilic population during the nineteenth century. The article makes the argument that traditional Russian attitudes towards children were reflected on a macroscopic scale in the state's treatment of the children of criminals and other deviants deported and exiled to Siberia and the Russian Far East. The article uses a statistical approach as well as anecdotal materials to suggest some of the possible impacts the deportation of tens of thousands of children had on the later history of Russia.

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“Completely Useless“

Exiling the Disabled to Tsarist Siberia

Andrew A. Gentes

The ostracizing of mentally and physically disabled individuals is a cross-cultural phenomenon that amounts to what Henri-Jacques Stiker calls a “murderous system,“ which does not kill such individuals outright, but instead indirectly. This as well as Foucault's notions about the construction of madness and deviancy serve as a departure point for understanding tsarist Russia's murderous system of deporting the disabled to Siberia. This article charts this system's operation over the longue durée, from the midsixteenth to the late nineteenth century; describes the motivations and factors conditioning those powerbrokers who exiled the disabled; and provides data on the number of disabled exiles and describes conditions they faced. I argue that the state's exploitation of the peasantry, the peasantry's inculcation of commodifying economic imperatives, and the availability of Siberia's expanses combined to make Russia's a uniquely murderous system that lasted for centuries.