Conferences, Talks, and Special Events

“The Political Police and the Soviet System: Insights from Newly Opened KGB Archives in the Former Soviet States”

The Jacques Rossi Memorial Fund for Gulag Research hosted a Virtual Conference and Webinar Series on The Political Police and the Soviet System: Insights from Newly Opened KGB Archives in the Former Soviet States, from April 15-20, 2020.

This series of webinars is intended to be a virtual conference assembling cutting-edge historical scholarship on newly opened secret police archives that illuminates a major piece of twentieth-century history and its legacies. The webinars aim to bring together international scholars at all career stages, including researchers from North America, Europe, and Eurasia, to discuss the significance of research on the Soviet secret police, the penal system, forced labor, and intelligence history. These archives, including the SBU (former KGB) archive in Kyiv and repositories in the Baltics, Georgia, Moldova, and other former Soviet republics, represent some of the most important archival material on modern intelligence history opened to researchers in recent years. 

As new sources become accessible, new problems of analysis emerge. The goal of this webinar series is to explore those problems and ask how new scholarship incorporating these new materials changes our understandings of the Soviet system.

We invite you to view the Webinar Series and Conference Papers here.

The Conference and Webinar Series was Sponsored by:

  • Jacques Rossi Memorial Fund for Gulag Research, Georgetown University
  • Georgetown Office for Global Engagement
  • Russian History Seminar of Washington, DC
  • International Centre for the History and Sociology of WWII, Higher School of Economics
  • Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Woodrow Wilson Center
  • With assistance from Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

Other Recent Events

In recent years, the Rossi Fund has sponsored guest papers on a variety of topics related to the Gulag in conjuncture with the Russian History Seminar of Washington, DC. This forum has afforded authors an opportunity to present their latest research to scholars and doctoral students from the Washington region, usually in the form of pre-circulated draft papers. Recent presenters have included:

  • Steve Barnes (George Mason University: “Gulag Wives: Women, Family, and Survival in Stalin’s Terror” [2017]), prizewinning historian of the Gulag.
  • Daniel Beer (University of London, Royal Holloway: The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars), winner of the Cundill History Prize.
  • Diana Dumitru (Ion Creangă Pedagogical State University: “From Holocaust to GULAG: The Stalinist Penal System and Soviet Jews after WWII” [2019]).
  • Stuart Finkel (University of Florida: “‘I Reserve the Right to Criticize My Friends’: Roger Baldwin, the International Committee for Political Prisoners, and Letters from Russian Prisons (1925)” [2018]).
  • Oksana Kornilova (Katyn Memorial Museum in Smolensk, Russia: “The Gulag from Moscow to Minsk: The Construction of the First Soviet Highway in the 1930s” [2015]) who also spoke about her research and memorialization of the Soviet massacres of Polish officers in 1940 at Katyn.

Additionally, the fund sponsors Georgetown screenings of films with a Gulag theme including documentaries as well as Soviet and post-Soviet cinematic efforts like the Aleksandr Proshkin film The Cold Summer of 1953.

The Soviet Gulag: New Research and New Interpretations

The Rossi Fund was launched in April 2013 with a major international conference at Georgetown. “The Soviet Gulag: New Research and New Interpretations” brought together leading scholars of the Gulag from the United States, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Russian Federation, France, Germany and Canada to discuss the state of Gulag research and new directions for the field. Three days of spirited inquiry helped yield a special issue of Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 16 no.3 (Summer 2015) and the significant collected volume The Soviet Gulag: Evidence, Interpretation, and Comparison in 2016.