Culture Behind Bars: Women Political Prisoners and Prison Culture in Czechoslovakia 1948-1968


Research on women political prisoners in Czechoslovakia 1948–1968 reveals phenomena of culture in prison. Women secretly organised lectures and discussions, wrote poems and made various objects. Exploring gender perspectives of political imprisonment shows the differences and attitudes specific to women, who created an unique space to share and support each other. During my oral history interviews I conducted with former political prisoners, I collected photos of the objects women made and had the opportunity to discuss meaning of culture in prison. Such objects are strongly connected to our cultural memory and identity. I will argue that prison culture helped women to cope, unite and resist in cruel environment. Women's experiences of political persecution can provide better understanding of human behaviour under repressive regimes and allow us to reflect on the role of culture, knowledge and education in such circumstances.


Twentieth Century, political prisoners, material culture, prison culture, Czechoslovakia, gender history

How to Cite

Mrvova M. (2018) “Culture Behind Bars: Women Political Prisoners and Prison Culture in Czechoslovakia 1948-1968”, Postgraduate perspectives on the past. 3(1). doi:






Marie Mrvova (University of Huddersfield)




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This article has been peer reviewed.

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