Women’s History in Russia: (Re)Establishing the Field
This collection of essays, all by Russian scholars, is the first of its kind to address a broad English-speaking audience. It presents the theories and methodologies employed by Russian national historiography to make sense of Russian gender and women’s history. The essays in this volume discuss women’s and gender history in Russia, highlighting sensitive areas in the Russian academic community and in Russian society in general. The book appears in the context of an intense backlash against the liberal ideology of Russian modernization. That backlash has manifested itself in constant and persistent calls for traditional values and the rejection of gender as a concept, which many Russians believe entails the ability to choose one’s sex. Women are expected to return to their “natural state” as mothers and housekeepers; feminism has once again become a perceived cause of bad motherhood, is seen as a general threat to the family, and is even held responsible for “unnatural vices.” These attacks on gender and feminism as academic concepts, together with their further politicization, underscore the importance of women’s history in Russia. They also force scholars to reflect on the reasons and roots of such hostility. Furthermore, they bring up immanent questions about the nature and origins of these traditional values. These are the questions this books answers.