The Rise of Gulag Consciousness
This chapter shows how Washington waged a concerted campaign to draw attention to the Soviet gulag during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The gulag's exposure forms a compelling case study in the transnational politics of knowledge. To historicize the emergence of “camp consciousness” is to appreciate how thoroughly an expanded awareness of the Soviet gulag was born of a distinct geopolitical moment and a determined effort to make known what had hitherto been only dimly, partially, or selectively understood. Most commentators tie westerners' first stirrings of awareness to the onset of détente, crediting Alexander Solzhenitsyn with transforming an administrative acronym into an emblem of moral outrage. Yet while Solzhenitsyn illuminated the Soviet camps for a fresh generation, they had not hitherto passed entirely unnoticed.
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