The New York Post Would Like You to Get Mad about a Yale Course Comparing Incarceration in the US and Stalinist USSRHistorians in the News
tags: prisons, authoritarianism, Mass Incarceration
Yale University is offering a course this fall that likens the US prison system to the Soviet Gulag, with one of the professors leading the course describing America as home to “one of the most brutal prison societies in human history” on social media Monday.
The course, titled “Mass Incarceration in the Soviet Union and the United States” is billed by the Ivy League school as “[a]n investigation of the experience and purposes of mass incarceration in the Soviet Union and the United States in the twentieth century.”
“Incarceration is central to the understanding, if not usually to the self-understanding, of a society. It is thus a crucial aperture into basic questions of values and practices,” reads the online course description. “This course proposes a frontal approach to the subject, by investigating two of the major carceral systems of the twentieth century, the Soviet and the American.”
The course will be led by Yale history professor Timothy Snyder and philosophy professor Jason Stanley. On Monday, Stanley explained the background of the course on Twitter.
“The United States is the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and has been for many decades. Almost 10 [percent] of the WORLD’s prison population comes from the US’s traditionally oppressed minority, the 38 million Black Americans. US prisons are famous for brutality,” he tweeted.
“A small handful of ethnic groups in human history have faced such extraordinary rates of incarceration. But few for so many decades. Why perpetuate this cycle? Is this how the US wants history to remember it? As one of the most brutal prison societies in human history?”