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Saturday, 18 May 2019


10 am to 4 pm

Maximum capacity

25 participants


Pushkin House

russian feminism: a history

This workshop explores the vibrant history of political thinking, writing and activism about gender and sex in Russia from 1800 to the present day. Participants will learn to contextualise, and go beyond, the image of Russian gender-based activism focused on Putin vs. Pussy Riot. Featuring short lectures and guided reading of key Russian feminist thinkers, the day will emphasise group discussion about the past, present and future of feminism in Russia.

In recent years, Russia has been in the news for regressive social policies relating to gender and sexuality, from 2013’s anti-‘homosexual propaganda’ laws to the decriminalisation of domestic violence in 2017. Media reports often give the impression that such changes are facilitated by a lack of gender-based and feminist politics within Russia. However, Russia has a long and vibrant history of political thinking, writing and activism about gender relations reaching back long before the Revolution. This workshop will explore that history. It will ask three questions: is there a certain type of feminism that is ’Russian’? How have discussions about gender, sexuality and the role of women in public and private life changed throughout the imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet periods? And what does feminism in Russia look like today?

Workshop format: The day will be split into three sections: 1) Before 1917, 2) Soviet Sexual Revolution?, 3) Feminism since 1991. The day will begin with a group exercise workshopping the question: what is feminism and what does it mean to talk about ‘Russian’ feminism? We will then launch into the three sessions, each of which will begin with a 30-minute lecture. The lecture will be followed by reading and discussion of short texts, each by a different Russian ‘feminist’ from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century. We will finish with a group discussion: where to for Russian feminism?

Who is this workshop is suitable for: This workshop is open to everyone with an interest and desire to learn more. No previous skills, knowledge or experience is required.

Recommended reading or viewing: Participants who would like to do background reading may consult Richard Stites, The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism and Bolshevism, 1860-1930.

Short excerpts from primary source texts by Anna Filosofova, Mariia Pokrovskaia, Aleksandra Kollontai, Nataliia Baranskaia and Mariia Alekhina will be provided on the day.

Refreshments: Tea and biscuits will be provided at the start of the workshop. Participants should make their own lunch arrangements.

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Philippa is a Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. She received her B.A. in History from the University of Sydney (Australia) and her MA and PhD in History and Gender Studies from Harvard University.  She has written widely in both academic and non-academic outlets on gender and sexuality in Russian history, and is currently completing a book about the ‘traffic in women’ from the Russian empire and early Soviet Union between 1880 and 1935.