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The Diary of Soviet Singer Vadim Kozin: Reading Queer Visibility in 1950s Russia

Publié le 3 avril 2014 Mis à jour le 25 septembre 2023

3 avril

Dan Healey
(Oxford University)

Room Doucy , Institut de Sociologie (12th floor), Building S
Avenue Jeanne, 44, 1050 Bruxelles

Vadim Alekseevich Kozin (1905?-1994) shot to Soviet stardom as a singer of apolitical “gypsy romance” songs during the height of Stalin’s Terror and then the Great Patriotic War. In 1945, he was imprisoned in the Gulag forced labour camps of Magadan in the Far East for his homosexuality and supposed anti-Soviet sentiments. Released in 1950, he struggled to rebuild his career, topping the bill on tours of Siberia with the Magadan Musical Theatre in 1955-1956. His diary recording eighteen months “on tour” during these years offers a tantalizing glimpse of the everyday life of a Siberian superstar with a queer eye for the Soviet guy. At the same time, the diary raises troubling questions for the historian of the Gulag queer; yet the diary still offers exciting opportunities for the historian alert to the existential questions for Soviet queers that it poses, and for the ways in which it anticipates the politics of queer visibility in today’s homophobic Russian Federation.

Dan Healey joined St Antony’s College as Professor of Modern Russian History in October 2013. Before that he taught at the University of Reading (2011-2013) and at Swansea University (2000-2011). He received his BA in Russian Language & Literature from the University of Toronto in 1981, and after a career in the travel industry, his PhD from the University of Toronto in 1998.
He is the author of several books and articles on modern Russian history. His study of the history of homosexuality in tsarist and Soviet Russia, Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent, was published in 2001 by University of Chicago Press, and was designated proxime accessit for the Royal Historical Society’s 2001 Gladstone History Book Prize. It was published in Russian by Ladomir Press, Moscow, in 2008. A study of the early Soviet “sexual revolution” followed in 2009, entitled Bolshevik Sexual Forensics: Diagnosing Sexual Disorder in Clinic and Courtroom, 1917-1939. He is currently researching a book on the history of medicine in Stalin’s Gulag camps.
He has also edited two essay collections: Soviet Medicine: Culture, Practice, Science (2010) with F. Bernstein and C. Burton; and Russian Masculinities in History and Culture (2002) with B. Clements and R. Friedman. He has published many articles and book chapters on the history of Russian homosexuality, on Russia’s contemporary politics of so-called “non-traditional” sexualities, on the history of Russian psychiatry and forensic medicine, on gender, and on the Gulag.