Modern Russian and Soviet history, totalitarianism, Cold War Europe
Professor Barnes is a specialist in the history of the former Soviet Union. His first book, Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society was published by Princeton University Press in 2011. Death and Redemption offers a fundamental reinterpretation of the role of the Gulag—the Soviet Union’s vast system of forced-labor camps, internal exile, and prisons—in Soviet society. Soviet authorities undoubtedly had the will to exterminate all the prisoners who passed through the Gulag, but unlike the Nazis they did not conceive of their concentration camps as instruments of genocide. In this provocative book, Steven Barnes argues that the Gulag must be understood primarily as a penal institution where prisoners were given one final chance to reintegrate into Soviet society. Millions whom authorities deemed “reeducated” through brutal forced labor were allowed to leave. Millions more who “failed” never got out alive.
Drawing on newly opened archives in Russia and Kazakhstan as well as memoirs by actual prisoners, Barnes shows how the Gulag was integral to the Soviet goal of building a utopian socialist society. He takes readers into the Gulag itself, focusing on one outpost of the Gulag system in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, a location that featured the full panoply of Soviet detention institutions. Barnes traces the Gulag experience from its beginnings after the 1917 Russian Revolution to its decline following the 1953 death of Stalin.
Death and Redemption reveals how the Gulag defined the border between those who would reenter Soviet society and those who would be excluded through death.
Additionally, with the National Parks Service and the Gulag Museum in Perm, Russia, Dr. Barnes was historical consultant for a traveling museum exhibit on the history of the Gulag. Working with the Center for History and New Media, Dr. Barnes built a website on the history of the Gulag. Information on both these projects can be found at Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives.
Dr. Barnes is presently working on a new book tentatively titled The Wives’ Gulag: The Akmolinsk Camp for Wives of Traitors to the Motherland. The book traces women’s lives in a camp for elite women during the height of Stalin’s Great Terror. Barnes is also presently writing about representations of the Gulag in the visual arts.
Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society, Princeton University Press, 2011.
“In a Manner Befitting Soviet Citizens: An Uprising in the Post-Stalin Gulag,” Slavic Review, Winter 2005, pp. 823-850.
“Hits and Misses in the Archives of Kazakhstan,” in Samuel Baron and Cathy Frierson (eds.),Adventures in Russian Historical Research: Reminiscences of American Scholars from the Cold War to the Present, M.E. Sharpe, 2003.
“All for the Front, All for Victory!: The Mobilization of Forced Labor in the Soviet Union during World War Two,” International Labor and Working Class History, Fall 2000, pp. 239-60.
“Researching Daily Life in the Gulag,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Spring 2000, pp. 377-90.
History 100 – Western Civilization
History 300 – The History of Concentration Camps
History 388 – The Soviet Union and the Post-Soviet World, 1945-present
History 388 – Post-1945 Europe
History 635 – The Soviet Union
History 635 – Modernity, Revolution and Totalitarianism
History 635 – Stalinism
History 635 – Post-1945 Europe
“Political Prisoners and the Gulag in the Late Stalin Period,” Paper presented at Southern Conference on Slavic Studies, March 27, 2010.
“Thinking a Global History of 1968 in the Soviet Union,” Paper presented at Southern Conference on Slavic Studies, March 28, 2009.
“Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society,” Wiswell Endowment Lecture, University of Hawaii, March 19, 2009.
“Behind Barbed Wire: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society” at teacher training seminar “Remembering the Gulag,” Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, Duke University, April 5, 2008.
“Mass Death and Mass Release: Reflecting on the Gulag’s Role in Stalin’s Soviet Union,” Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies and the Department of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, April 4, 2008.
“The Gulag in History, Culture and Memory,” The Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University, Oxford, OH, February 11, 2008.