1960s: Days of Rage

Russian samizdat and photo negatives of unofficial literature

Samizdat (Russian: самиздат, lit.‘self-publishing’) was a form of dissident activity across the socialist Eastern Bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground makeshift publications, often by hand, and passed the documents from reader to reader. The practice of manual reproduction was widespread, because most typewriters and printing devices required official registration and permission to access. This was a grassroots practice used to evade official Soviet censorship. Etymologically, the word samizdat derives from sam (сам, ‘self, by oneself’) and izdat (издат, an abbreviation of издательство, izdatel’stvo, ‘publishing house’), and thus means ‘self-published’. The Ukrainian language has a similar term: samvydav (самвидав), from sam, “self”, and vydavnytstvo, ‘publishing house’. … The techniques used to reproduce these forbidden texts varied. Several copies might be made using carbon paper, either by hand or…

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