Paper proposals are invited for the workshop The 101st Kilometre: Provincial Marginality from Stalin to Gorbachev, to be held at University College, Oxford on July 20th 2020, co-organised by Dr Polly Jones (Oxford) and Dr Miriam Dobson (Sheffield). This one-day workshop, funded by the John Fell Fund of the University of Oxford, will explore the social and cultural consequences of the Soviet-era legislation barring various categories of the population (notably, many Gulag returnees) from settling closer than 100km to Moscow and Leningrad (50km from Kyiv).
The workshop is the first, ‘pump-priming’ stage in planning a major international project comparing 101st kilometre communities, and we hope that participants in the workshop may wish to collaborate in the subsequent phases of the project. The workshop will feature intensive discussion by leading UK scholars of migration and marginality (including Nick Baron, Peter Gatrell and Yoram Gorlizki) of pre-circulated papers by invited participants. Papers should be approx. 4000 words and should be submitted to discussants by mid-June 2020. The working languages of the workshop will be English and Russian.Project and Paper topics
The popular shorthand of the 101st kilometre (sto pervyi kilometr
) designates (and simplifies) a large and complex territory made up of small provincial towns between the distant periphery and metropolitan centres. The 101st kilometre zone was shaped by multiple and diverse waves of migration: kulaks and social marginals in the 1930s, Gulag returnees of the Stalin and post-Stalin eras, and non-conformist writers, religious believers and dissidents in late socialism. Comparing these migrants’ decisions on how and where to settle within the 101st kilometre, and their subsequent practices of ‘place-making’ and community building, will enrich the growing strand of refugee studies which emphasises agency over passive victimhood. 101st kilometre towns also challenge conventional understandings of Russian and Soviet imaginary geography as defined by a dominant centre and a far-flung periphery with a drab and homogeneous ‘province’ in between. Broadly, we are concerned with the following questions:
- What agency did ‘marginalised’ citizens bring to bear on their choice(s) of locale around the 101st kilometre; what were the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors in deciding between towns?
- Was life on the 101st kilometre sedentary or itinerant? What was the nature and extent of interactions with the metropole?
- What types of communities and collective action resulted from this migration?
- How did local populations react to, and participate in, these ‘marginal’ cultures?
- How did Soviet authorities respond to these communities and activities, and with what effects?
More specifically, papers might concern the following (this list is non-exhaustive):
- The cultural and social history of individual towns or regions on the 101st kilometre.
- Gulag returnee settlement in 101st kilometre towns; comparison of communities of ‘criminal’ and ‘political’ former prisoners.
- The Soviet authorities’ response to social and cultural phenomena produced by the 101st kilometre legislation, including rising crime rates; civil unrest; formation of non-conformist religious and literary communities.
- Re-conceptualising Soviet migration and marginality in light of the social and cultural history of the 101st kilometre.
- The post-Soviet ‘101st kilometre’: legislation; social practices; popular attitudes.
- Depictions of life on the 101st kilometre in literature, film and art
How to submit proposals
Paper proposals of 300 words max. should be submitted to polly.jones at
univ.ox.ac.uk by 13 February 2020. Applicants will be informed whether their paper proposal has been accepted by the end of February 2020. We anticipate being able to cover the costs of participants’ travel and accommodation (up to two nights in Oxford).