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Grant number: FT-229688-15

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Edward Cohn
Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA 50112-2227)

Policing Practices and the KGB's Struggle with Dissent in the Baltic States, 1953-1991

Summer research and writing on Russian History.

From Joseph Stalin's 1953 death to the USSR's 1991 collapse, the KGB subjected hundreds of thousands of minor political offenders to a tactic called profilaktika (prophylaxis), "inviting" them to the KGB's offices for a "chat," intimidating them into confessing, and releasing them when they promised to reform. My project is a book-length study of profilaktika in the USSR's Baltic republics, where opposition to Soviet Communism was strongest. I argue that profilaktika arose in the 1950s as a utopian effort to eliminate the root causes of crime but evolved into a more subtle effort to manage dissent, seeking to limit the influence of discontented citizens via a tactic resembling the US theory of "broken windows policing." My work analyzes how the KGB and its victims defined anti-Soviet activity, highlighting the ways that 20th-century surveillance states sought to prevent crime by collecting information on their citizens, who were forced to adapt to an intrusive and ever-vigilant state.

Project fields:
Russian History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2015 – 7/31/2015