HISTORY 496 - History Colloquium
Section: 001 Siberia?Between Heaven and Hell: Conquest, Coal, and Labor Camps
Term: FA 2020
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of department.
Advisory Prerequisites:
May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

Siberia spreads across Eurasia, from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Its frozen taiga and tundra is the historical home of shamans, reindeer herders and dogsledders, the peoples of the North. It is rich in furbearing animals, diamonds, coal, nickel, and other natural resources. After initial encounter in the sixteenth century, Russian colonizers brought death, subjugation, and environmental destruction to the region. At the same time, Siberia’s inhospitable landscape offered convenient sites for exile of criminals and political dissidents. During the Soviet period, it housed Stalin’s system of forced labor camps, the gulag. And yet, in the Russian imagination, Siberia also remains a land of freedom and opportunity, an equivalent to the US Wild West. This course will trace the history of Siberia up to the present day. We will explore the lifeways of the people of the North, the dynamics of imperial conquest and colonization, the tensions of inter-imperial competition with China, Japan, and the United States, and the development of the exile system. We will also trace the natural riches that drew developers, and the environmental ruin that followed. Readings will range across genres and disciplines, and will include history, anthropology, philosophy and fiction. The sublime landscape and the harsh world of the gulag have long inspired the greatest writers of the Russian canon: Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Solzhenitsyn, and others writing today.

Course Requirements:

Students will develop their own research topics on any aspect of Siberian history, environment, or culture. The course will require five short weekly responses to readings, followed by an analytical book review, and a research paper constructed in installments through the second half of the term.

HISTORY 496 - History Colloquium
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
Th 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Note: All sections of 496: Initially reserved for Junior and Senior History Majors, these courses are enrolled by override only. The number of seats available (if any) will appear under "Open Restricted Seats." Interested non-History Juniors and Seniors, as well as History Majors who did not complete the pre-registration, must contact Sheila (history-cc@umich.edu) for an override.
002 (SEM)
W 1:00PM - 4:00PM
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