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The Notebooks of Gulag Doctors: Medical service in Stalin’s Labour Camps

Dan Healey is Professor of Modern Russian History at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi, (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). His Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent (University of Chicago Press, 2001), was the first book-length history of homosexuality in tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union, and has been translated into Russian and Spanish.
He has written a monograph on early Soviet forensic medicine, chapters and articles on forensic psychiatry, and numerous articles on the history of gender and sexuality in modern Russia. Healey co-edited essay volumes on Russian masculinity; and on Soviet medicine.
Healey has long had an interest in the Soviet Gulag forced-labour camp system, and in particular, its medical services and their history. His current project explores the organisation and practice of medicine in Stalin’s forced-labour camp system, the 'Gulag Archipelago’. The Soviet camps spanned the length and breadth of the Soviet Union, and the Gulag became a byword for cruelty and human degradation. Yet archival sources from the camp system itself reveal the operation of an extensive and surprisingly sophisticated medical service. Embedded in the organisation of the secret police who ran the camps, the Gulag's medical clinics, stations and hospitals present a puzzle for the historian: why have these places of apparent humanity in the midst of suffering and high mortality? In this talk, Healey focuses on doctors' and nurses' published and unpublished memoirs, on museum collections, and on the reminiscences of prisoner-patients and prisoner-medics, to illuminate the experience of medical workers in Stalin’s penal system.