A Short History of Prison Noise

The 1902 Brygidki Unrest and the Agency of Criminal Prisoners in Habsburg Lemberg

Noise can be understood as sonic violence and analysed as a central means of communication during the recurring prison riots in the early 20th-century Habsburg Empire. For both prison administrators and state-appointed public prosecutors, silence was synonymous with discipline and order. This definition gave criminal prisoners an opportunity to bargain silence in exchange for legally slight yet routine-revising changes within the regime of incarceration. Noise wielded such powerful leverage because it spread inmates’ demands from inside the prison to nearby streets – in this case, those of the Habsburg city of Lemberg. Inmates were able to use their prison buildings as a space of resonance – in both physical and symbolic ways.

Comment by
Iryna Vushko (Assistant Professor at Princeton University, USA)

Moderation: Timothy Snyder (IWM Permanent Fellow; Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University)

This event is part of the IWM Monthly lecture series. Once a month public lectures take place on subjects related to the main research interests of the Institute. The purpose of these lectures is to be a window into the Institute’s work. Speakers include Visiting Fellows and international experts.