Alan Barenberg

Alan Barenberg

Assistant Professor - Soviet Union, Russia, Forced Labor


Ph.D., University of Chicago

Alan Barenberg specializes in the history of the Soviet Union, with an emphasis on the social and economic history of the 1930s-1970s. His research focuses on a broad range of topics in the economic and social history of the Russian Empire and the USSR.  His book, Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and Its Legacy in Vorkuta (Yale UP, 2014), uses the case of the Arctic community of Vorkuta to resituate the Gulag in the history of the Stalin and post-Stalin eras.

Dr. Barenberg teaches specialized courses on the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and Central Asia, as well as surveys of Western civilization.  In 2013 he received the Hemphill-Wells New Professor Excellence in Teaching Award from the Texas Tech Parents Association.

Before coming to Texas Tech University, Dr. Barenberg received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (2007), an M.A. from the University of Chicago (2000), and a B.A. from Carleton College (1999).

Dr. Barenberg has received numerous fellowships, including: Kennan Institute Title VIII Long Term Research Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, (2011-12, declined); Institute for Historical Studies Residential Fellowship, University of Texas (2010, declined); Social Science Research Council Eurasia Dissertation Fellowship (2005-2006); Council on Library and Information Resources Mellon Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources in the Humanities (2003-2004).



Selected Publications


Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and Its Legacy in Vorkuta
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014)


Barenberg1This insightful volume offers a radical reassessment of the infamous “Gulag Archipelago” by exploring the history of Vorkuta, an arctic coal-mining outpost originally established in the 1930s as a prison camp complex. Author Alan Barenberg’s eye-opening study reveals Vorkuta as an active urban center with a substantial nonprisoner population where the borders separating camp and city were contested and permeable, enabling prisoners to establish social connections that would eventually aid them in their transitions to civilian life. With this book, Barenberg makes an important historical contribution to our understanding of forced labor in the Soviet Union and its enduring legacy.

To learn more visit Yale University Press.




“From Prisoners to Citizens?  Ex-Prisoners in Vorkuta during the Thaw.”  In The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture in the 1950s and 1960s, 143-75. Edited by Denis Kozlov and Eleonory Gilburd.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013
Barenberg2

The period from Stalin’s death in 1953 to the end of the 1960s marked a crucial epoch in Soviet history. Though not overtly revolutionary, this era produced significant shifts in policies, ideas, language, artistic practices, daily behaviours, and material life. It was also during this time that social, cultural, and intellectual processes in the USSR began to parallel those in the West (and particularly in Europe) as never before.

This volume examines in fascinating detail the various facets of Soviet life during the 1950s and 1960s, a period termed the ‘Thaw.’ Featuring innovative research by historical, literary, and film scholars from across the world, this book helps to answer fundamental questions about the nature and ultimate fortune of the Soviet order – both in its internal dynamics and in its long-term and global perspectives.

To learn more visit University of Toronto Press.


 “Prisoners Without Borders: Zazonniki and the Transformation of Vorkuta after Stalin,” Jahrbuecher fuer Geschichte Osteuropas 57:4(2009): 513-34.

To learn more visit JSTOR.

Contact Information:

Email: Alan.Barenberg@ttu.edu
Office: 52 Holden Hall
Phone: 806-834-7928