UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


20th Century Gender History of Eastern Europe in the 21st Century

03 February 2017, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Gender in Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe and the USSR…

Event Information


Room 432, UCL SSEES, 16 Taviton Street, WC1H 0BW

Dr. Catherine Baker, Lecturer, University of Hull

Compiling a volume on Gender in 20th Century Eastern Europe and the USSR in the mid 2010s both permits an editor and her contributors to take stock of new interpretive and methodological lenses for understanding struggles over gender relations in 20th-century eastern Europe and the former USSR, but also enmeshes them in 21st-century gender politics.

The time during which this volume was conceived, written and edited was one where feminist approaches that decentre the West and trace intersections of social identities and structural marginalisations globally not just regionally became ever more important to combine with research questions grounded in the specifics of post-state-socialist experience; when historians of sexuality and gender non-conformity have opened more space than ever for revealing diverse identities and practices in the past, but through frames that often still centre the history of Western urban centres; when the volume’s likely readers are increasingly being reminded that gains in bodily autonomy and sexual freedom are not the result of any inevitable momentum towards ‘progress’ but hard-won objects of feminist and queer struggle, ever vulnerable to state, church and far-right backlash; and yet when transnational gender history in making claims about ‘Europe’ is still often, though not always, liable either to overlook state socialism or reduces it to evidence from Soviet Russia. In introducing this new volume, which ranges from the visual culture of pre-WW1 nationalist feminism to the politics of LGBT rights since the end of the Cold War, Catherine Baker will suggest how insights from gender history can help to explain what if anything gives the region implied by ‘east European studies’ its coherence and why thinking beyond the idea of gender equality simply ‘moving forwards’ in the past might inform gender politics in the present.

A seminar hosted by the UCL SSEES South-East European Studies Seminar Series.
Dr Diana Georgescu