Welcome to Malaya Rodina ('Little Homeland'): gender and penal order in a Russian penal colony

L.F. Piacentini, Judith Pallot, Dominique Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents findings from research conducted in a penal colony for young women in Russia. Russia's penal system remains under-researched in socio-legal and criminological scholarship. This contribution is the first multi-disciplinary study of Russian imprisonment to be conducted in the post-Soviet period, bringing together criminology, human geography and law. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a landmark moment in Russia's penal trajectory due to the excessive scale and use of imprisonment as a political and cultural corrective. Our findings reveal the punishment of young women in Russia as exceptional and exclusionary. Personnel play a crucial role in shaping penal strategies that encourage young women to adopt blame and shame sensibilities. We develop a conceptualization of Russian penality as it relates to young women prisoners. We argue that the prisoner transport is the first stage in a continuum where gender, penal order and culture come together come together to create a specific penological place identity, which we conceptualize as Malaya Rodina (Little Homeland). We conclude that Russia's penal geography, and its attendant penological imagination, is a vestige of the Soviet penal monolith.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-542
Number of pages20
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • distance
  • gender
  • L’govo
  • prisons
  • Russia
  • transportation
  • women


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