Professor Dan Healey

Professor of Modern Russian History

My research and publications have concentrated on the social and cultural history of modern Russia and the Soviet Union. I have been most interested in the history of sexualities and gender in modernising Russia, and particularly the role of medicine and law in shaping the regulation of sexual and gender dissent and conformity. I have explored the history of homosexuality in tsarist and Soviet Russia, the nature of masculinity under socialism, and the problems of sexual disorders and sexual violence in twentieth-century Russia. Soviet penal systems and their medical services are a recent interest. I would welcome postgraduates wishing to work in these areas.

My published work in these areas includes the books Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent (Chicago, 2001), with a Russian translation issued in 2008, and Bolshevik Sexual Forensics: Diagnosing Disorder in the Clinic and Courtroom, 1917-1939(DeKalb, Il., 2009). I continue to publish on the history and politics of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Russia. Recently I have begun a study of the history of medicine in the Stalinist Gulag. I am interested in the range of medical services, personnel, and practices in the Soviet forced-labour camp system, and how medicine was experienced by prisoners as patients.  


  • History of LGBT Russia
  • Russian and Soviet medicine and psychiatry
  • Russian and Soviet penal institutions, the Gulag

My latest book, Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi, (Bloomsbury Academic), looks at the recent politics of homophobia in Russia in historical perspective. Taking the view that modern political homophobia began in Russia with Stalin’s rule, the book explores the fate of the queer in Stalin’s Gulag camps, the social and psychological worlds that queer men and women inhabited under the Soviet regime, and the rise in visibility of LGBT Russians at the end of the twentieth century. It concludes by examining the obstacles to understanding Russia’s queer past, and considering prospects facing LGBT Russians hoping for a queerer future.

I have long had an interest in the Soviet Gulag forced-labour camp system, and in particular, its medical services and their history. My project, ‘Medicine in the Gulag Archipelago, 1930-1960’ uses new archival sources to explore this topic. The 'Gulag Archipelago' or network of Soviet forced-labour camps spanned the length and breadth of the Soviet Union, and the 'Gulag' became a byword for cruelty and human degradation. Yet at the same time new sources from the camp system itself reveal the operation of an extensive and surprisingly sophisticated medical service. Embedded in the organisation of the secret police who ran the camps, the Gulag's medical clinics, stations and hospitals present a puzzle for the historian: why have these places of apparent humanity in the midst of suffering and high mortality? This project uses the archives of the Gulag's Sanitary Department, its embedded medical service, as well as the local archives of camps in far flung regions of the Soviet Union. I also draw upon doctors' and nurses' published and unpublished memoirs, on museum collections, and on the reminiscences of prisoner-patients and prisoner-medics. I explore the establishment and evolution of the camps' medical service, the practices of its socially and politically diverse staff, and the impact it had on police-colonies that eventually became 'ordinary' Soviet cities and towns.


2016 | Chapter 

La révolution sexuelle en URSS : des changements dynamiques sous la glace

2015 | Chapter 

Lives in the Balance: Weak and Disabled Prisoners and the Biopolitics of the Gulag

2015 | Journal article 

Chto takoe ‘traditsionnye seksual’nye otnosheniia’?

2014 | Chapter 

From Stalinist Pariahs to Subjects of ‘Sovereign Democracy’: Queers in Moscow 1945 to the Present

2014 | Chapter 

Love and Death: Transforming Sexualities in Russia, 1914-1922

2014 | Chapter 

Russian and Soviet Forensic Psychiatry: Troubled and Troubling

2014 | Journal article 

The sexual revolution in the USSR: dynamic change beneath the ice

2014 | Chapter 

Gei i lesbiianki - zhertvy politicheskogo terrora v SSSR

2013 | Chapter 

Comrades, Queers, and ‘Oddballs’: Sodomy, Masculinity, and Gendered Violence in Leningrad Province of the 1950s

2012 | Journal article 

Nasledie GULAGa: Prinuditel'nyi trud sovetskoi epokhi kak vnutrenniaia kolonizatsiia

2012 | Chapter 

Introduction: Experts, Expertise, and New Histories of Soviet Medicine

2010 | Chapter 

Active, Passive, and Russian: The National Idea in Gay Men's Pornography

2010 | Journal article 

Defining Sexual Maturity as the Soviet Alternative to an Age of Consent

2010 | Chapter 

Soviet Medicine: Culture, Practice, Science

2010 | Book 

Bolshevik Sexual Forensics

2009 | Book 

’Untraditional Sex’ and the ‘Simple Russian’: Nostalgia for Soviet Innocence in the Polemics of Dilia Enikeeva

2008 | Chapter 

Gomoseksual'noe vlechenie v revoliutsionnoi Rossii: Regulirovanie seksual'no-gendernogo dissidentstva

2008 | Book 

Early Soviet Forensic Psychiatric Approaches to Sex Crime

2007 | Chapter 

Sexual Cultures in Russia

2006 | Chapter 

Can We Queer Early Modern Russia?

2005 | Chapter 

Bolshevik Medicine and Russia’s Sexual Revolution

2004 | Chapter 

Sexual and Gender Dissent: Homosexuality as Resistance in Stalin’s Russia

2002 | Chapter 


2002 | Chapter 

The Disappearance of the Russian Queen, or How the Soviet Closet was Born

2002 | Chapter 

Homosexual Existence and Existing Socialism: New Light on the Repression of Male Homosexuality in Stalin's Russia

2002 | Journal article 

Izcheznovenie russkoi tetki, ili kak rodilas’ sovetskaia gomofobiia

2002 | Chapter 

Russian Masculinities in History and Culture

2002 | Book 

Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent

2001 | Book 

Unruly Identities: Soviet Psychiatry Confronts the Female Homosexual of the 1920s

2001 | Chapter 

Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent

2001 | Book 

Masculine Purity and ‘Gentlemen’s Mischief’: Sexual Exchange and Prostitution between Russian Men, 1861-1941

2001 | Journal article 


1999 | Chapter 

Evgeniia/Evgenii: Queer Case Histories in the First Years of Soviet Power

1997 | Journal article 

The Russian Revolution and the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality

1993 | Journal article