The Russian Revolution and Women's Liberation: Making the Soviet Gender Contract

Thursday, March 8, 2018
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Ella Weed Room, 223 Milbank Hall, Barnard College

Please join us for a talk with Elena Gapova (Sociology, University of Western Michigan).

Revolutions are normally viewed as economic and political upheavals. The Bolsheviks wanted to be even more radical and revolutionize gender relations themselves: their visions of the brave new world followed insights first laid out in The Communist Manifesto. Elena Gapova will explore how these ideas and visions of women’s liberation were realized by the Belarusian Zhenotdel (the section of the Russian Communist party devoted to women's affairs) in the 1920s.

Elena Gapova is primarily a scholar of the post-socialist condition. Her research is concerned with gender, class, nationalism, and intellectuals. As the founding director of the Center for Gender Studies at the European Humanities University in Minsk (Belarus), she initiated several projects in women's history. Her most recent book Klassy natsiy: feministskaya kritika natsiostrotelstva [The Classes of Nations: A Feminist Critique of Nation Building], published in 2016 in Moscow by The New Literary Observer, won the Best Book Award in Social and Political Sciences from the International Congress for Belarusian Studies. It was also shortlisted for Andrey Bely Humanities Award and included among the top 10 non-fiction books of 2016 published in Russia.

The Women in Revolution Lecture Series:

To mark the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution and its direct aftermath, the Barnard Slavic Department, along with the Harriman Institute, the Barnard Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the William E. Harkins Colloquium at the Columbia Slavic Department present an interdisciplinary lecture series, “Women in Revolution.” The series interrogates the role of gender and sexuality in Revolutionary and early-Soviet Russia. Leading scholars from the U.S. and Russia will investigate the fraught relationship between the revolutionary ideals of gender equality and the eventual entrenchment of a new Soviet power system. The series is free and open to the public, with talks intended to appeal to a broad, non-specialist audience. All events in the series will take place in the Ella Weed Room, 223 Milbank Hall, on the Barnard College campus from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

January 31 - Elizabeth Wood (History, MIT)
“Mobilizing, Silencing, and Exploiting Women after the Russian Revolution: Ambivalence about Gender Difference”

March 8 - Elena Gapova (Sociology, University of Western Michigan)
“The Russian Revolution and Women's Liberation: Making the Soviet Gender Contract”

March 29 - Elena Zdravomyslova (Political Science, European University in St Petersburg)
“The Soviet Gender Contract and Sexual Politics: From Revolution to Soviet Patriarchy”

April 5 - Christina Kiaer (Art History, Northwestern University)
“Revolution Every Day: Early Soviet Posters and the Propagandizing of Women”

All events: 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Ella Weed Room, 223 Milbank Hall, Barnard College

The series is organized by Irina Denischenko and Bradley Gorski with help from Erica Drennan and Milica Ilicic and is sponsored by the Harriman Institute, the Departments of Slavic and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College, and the William E. Harkins Colloquium at the Slavic Department at Columbia University.