A Ticket to a New Life: The Integration of Special Settlers through Vocational Education (Tomsk in the 1950s)
This article raises the question whether secondary vocational and higher education was an accessible and effective tool for the social integration of special settlers between the late 1940s and early 1950s. In this article, the concept of ‘accessibility’ is considered through the analysis of both formal barriers, established by the regime at the legislative level, and informal ones formed by representatives of local authorities and management of educational institutions, whose actions hindered the realisation of the right to education for special settlers. The author examines the main characteristics of deportees who managed to overcome the difficulties and were able to enter secondary vocational or higher education institutions. She also analyses deportees’ nationalities, age, gender, and the origin of their parents, making general conclusions about the main stages of their biographies. The extent of special settlers’ success in social integration in educational institutions is estimated as a part of a study of the concept of ‘efficiency’. The key criterion for this is the analysis of four main parameters that reflect different sides of special settlers’ activities: academic performance, discipline, social and political life, and membership in the Komsomol or the party. Special attention is paid to the similarities and differences in the behaviour patterns of various special contingents (Germans, Kalmyks, members of the Ukrainian nationalists). In addition, the author analyses how discrimination in educational institutions affected the process of special settlers’ social integration and whether it existed at all. The article refers to documentary sources which have never been studied previously: name lists of special settlers, their personal characteristics, ordinances of universities, and personal files drawn up on their admission to educational institutions. To a lesser extent, the study also uses narrative sources.
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