In 1951, the American Federation of Labor produced a map of the Soviet Union showing the locations of 175 forced labor camps administered by the Gulag. Widely appropriated in popular magazines and newspapers, and disseminated internationally as propaganda against the U.S.S.R., the map, entitled “‘Gulag’—Slavery, Inc.,” would be cited as “one of the most widely circulated pieces of anti-Communist literature.” By contextualizing the map’s origins and circulation, as well as engaging in a close analysis of its visual codes and intertextual relationships with photographs, captions, and other materials, this essay argues that the Gulag map became an evidentiary weapon in the increasingly bipolar spaces of the early Cold War. In particular, “‘Gulag’—Slavery, Inc.” draws on cartography’s unique power of “placement” to locate forced labor camps with authenticity and precision, infiltrating the impenetrable spaces of the Soviet Union as a visually compelling mode of Cold War knowledge production.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2013 Michigan State University Press. This article first appeared in Rhetoric & Public History 16:2 (2013), 317-353.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.