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Chaos in Siberia

New Scholarship on Exile in the Late Russian Empire

Jeffrey S. Hardy

Abstract

This essay reviews new books by Sarah Badcock, Daniel Beer, and Andrew Gentes on Siberian exile in the long nineteenth century. Based on a wealth of memoirs and archival documents, all three studies shed new light on the aims, practices, and lived experience of exile, with Beer providing a broad overview and Gentes and Badcock focusing on specific episodes. Meticulously researched and well written, the books demonstrate the chaotic nature of exile, with corruption, violence, and the nature of the exiles themselves contributing to the system’s failures to achieve its often-conflicting goals. More context in terms of Siberian development and the Russian penal system and greater theoretical and comparative perspective would have further strengthened these important new books.

Open access

Jane F. Hacking, Jeffrey S. Hardy, and Matthew P. Romaniello