Born to be Criminal : The Discourse on Criminality and the Practice of Punishment in Late Imperial Russia and Early Soviet Union. Interdisciplinary Approaches
The article examines the plethora of ideas regarding norms and deviations in late imperial Russia. Adapting criminal anthropology to the imperial situation, doctors and scientists examined the “natural-born criminal” as a collective category and created a comparative scale of imperial human diversity that allowed them to stigmatize entire groups. In the period between revolutions, the discourse on criminality underwent a semiotic shift from the signifier to the signified, conditioning a new image of the “internal savage,” one that was, however, hybrid and unstable. The following generation of psychiatrists was tasked with overcoming this duality, but this was only achieved in the early Soviet period, when the concept of the “natural-born criminal” was replaced by that of the “counterrevolutionary” and acquired an unambiguous, purely sociological sense.