Miriam Dobson

Miriam Dobson is a lecturer in history at Sheffield.

Tuts on the Trolleybus: Bone Music

Miriam Dobson, 30 March 2023

Adecade ago​, the musician Stephen Coates was in St Petersburg to play a concert with his band. While he was there, some Russian friends took him to a flea market, where he found and bought a strange, unmarked disc. Back in London, he put it on: it was ‘Rock around the Clock’ by Bill Haley and His Comets. He held up the disc to the light and saw two skeletal hands. It looked...

Kid Gloves: Memory-Obsessed

Miriam Dobson, 7 October 2021

Maria Stepanova’s​ story begins with the death of her aunt. Towards the end of her life, Galya retreated from the world, unplugging her phone and devoting her time to classifying, sorting and sometimes discarding the possessions that crowded the ‘cave of her tiny apartment’. Shortly after her death, Stepanova sits among her aunt’s piled-up photographs and postcards,...

In​ the decade or so before the revolutions of 1917, the photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky crisscrossed the Russian empire on its growing network of railways. He visited the medieval towns of Yaroslavl and Smolensk, went deep into Siberia and north to the Solovetsky islands, and travelled south to Bukhara and Samarkand, Central Asian cities colonised over the preceding century. He...

Beijing,​ 1920. A young member of the new Communist Party in China, Zhang Guotao, is discussing revolutionary politics with a Comintern representative dispatched from Moscow. ‘Filled with youthful enthusiasm’, the Russian visitor ‘very easily fell in with people that held the new attitudes … And he drew no distinction between Chinese and foreigners, between the...

What did Khrushchev say? ‘Moscow 1956’

Miriam Dobson, 2 November 2017

Dressed​ in a shapeless black skirt and blouse and shod in ageing boots she might have worn since her days in the revolutionary underground, the 82-year-old Old Bolshevik Elena Stasova clutches the arm of Mátyás Rákosi, leader of the Hungarian Communist Party. She leans in as if whispering the latest political gossip. The pair stand in a Kremlin hallway waiting for the...

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