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The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars

March 30, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

It was known as ‘the vast prison without a roof.’ From the beginning of the nineteenth century until the Russian Revolution, the tsars exiled more than one million prisoners and their families beyond the Ural Mountains to Siberia. Siberia was intended to serve not only as a dumping ground for criminals, but also as a colony. Just as exile would purge Russia of its villains, so too would it purge villains of their vices. In theory, Russia’s most unruly criminals would be transformed into hardy frontiersmen and settlers. But in reality, the system peopled Siberia with an army of destitute and desperate vagabonds who visited a plague of crime on the indigenous population. Over the nineteenth century, however, the political exiles transformed Siberia’s mines, settlements and penal forts into a virtual laboratory of revolution. Exile became the defining experience for the men and women who would one day rule the Soviet Union. Unearthing a treasure trove of new archival evidence in his book The House of the Dead, Daniel Beer tells the epic story of Russia’s struggle to govern its prison continent and Siberia’s own decisive influence on the political forces of the modern world. The House of the Dead brings to light a dark and gripping reality of mythic proportions.

Daniel Beer is senior lecturer in the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has written widely on nineteenth-century Russia and is the author of Renovating Russia: The Human Sciences and the Fate of Liberal Modernity, 1880-1930.

Thursday, March 30, 2017
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Voesar Conference Room
1957 E St. NW, Suite 412
Please RSVP at go.gwu.edu/beer


March 30, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


George Washington University
Bell Hall 109


George Washington University Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies