The 2018 Cundill Lecture
The House of the Dead: Colonisation and Punishment in Tsarist Siberia
Wednesday, November 14th at 5PM
McGill University Faculty Club
Leo Yaffe Billiard Room
3450 McTavish Street, Montreal, QC
Tsarist Siberia served two masters: colonisation and punishment. In theory, the one million convicts and their families exiled beyond the Urals were to discover the virtues of self-reliance, abstinence and hard work, develop Siberia’s natural riches and bind this vast realm to Russia. In practice, the autocracy banished an army not of hardy colonists but of desperate men and women who subsisted as laborers, vagabonds, thieves and prostitutes. The lecture will explore how this fundamental contradiction in the exile system corroded the energies and authority of the Tsarist Empire.