Centre for Doctoral Training in Russian, Slavonic & East European languages and culture


Thomas Drew (Manchester)


'Homo Liber: Nonconformism and Artistic Self-Expression in 1980s Siberia'

Supervisor: Dr Rachel Platonov (Manchester) and Professor Vera Tolz-Zilitinkevic (Manchester)

My research focuses on the activities of nonconformist creatives in Novosibirsk and its satellite science-city (naukograd), Akademgorodok, during the 1970s and 1980s. Specifically, I investigate the Novosibirsk Paper Architects and the role of the city/cities in Siberia’s underground music and punk movements; I am interested in how these two groups interacted with the Soviet state and society, and the ways in which their art was influenced by their surroundings. The proximity of Novosibirsk and Akademgorodok, and their status as Siberian hub cities, encouraged a cross-pollination of the artistic and scientific communities in each. In addition to the impact which this had on my artistic case studies, it is also the source of my third case study, on Soviet sociology, whose development was closely tied to Akademgorodok and to nonconformism and dissident thought from the late-1950s onwards. I hope to use these case studies to shed light on the broader relationship between Soviet authorities and those nonconformists who cannot adequately be defined as ‘dissident’, and on the centre/periphery dichotomy within the overall sphere of Soviet ideological control.