“The Dying Criminal”: The Image of the Anarchist Shlioma Asnin and the Political...

“The Dying Criminal”: The Image of the Anarchist Shlioma Asnin and the Political Struggle in Petrograd, June 1917

Dmitrii I. Ivanov
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The paper considers the process of forming political authority during the 1917 Russian Revolution on the example of anarchist Shlioma Asnin. The importance of belonging to a
subculture for building a political figure’s image and an enemy image is demonstrated. Various options of participation in a revolutionary subculture are considered, and mutual influence between common-criminal and revolutionary subcultures is described. Hard labor created “counter-mores” shared by both groups of criminals but social capital accumulated within political-prison subculture could not necessarily be translated into political authority at liberty. In Asnin’s case, perception of him as a revolutionary was undermined by a tattoo discovered on his body, the tattoo being linked to his common-criminal past before his “conversion” into a convinced anarchist. A revolutionary’s image was “assembled” from the elements some of which made the person unacceptable for society in general. Pathologization of opponents, in part due to subcultural identity, made political dialogue more difficult and increased the probability of violence. Methods of sociology of deviance were employed as the paper’s analytical apparatus.
Dmitrii I. Ivanov
Junior research assistant
European University at St Petersburg, St Petersburg, Russia
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anarchism, Russian Revolution of 1917, political authority, revolutionary subculture, common-criminal subculture, deviancy
For citation:
Ivanov, D. “‘The Dying Criminal’: The Image of the Anarchist Shlioma Asnin and the Political Struggle in Petrograd, June 1917.” Historia Provinciae – The Journal of Regional History, vol. 4, no. 3 (2020): 884–928,

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