UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)

Dr Philippa Hetherington

Dr Philippa Hetherington

Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History (19th - 20th Century)



Joined UCL
1st Sep 2015

Research summary

I am a Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, where I research and teach the cultural, social and legal history of imperial Russia and the early Soviet Union in global and transnational context.  I also work in the fields of comparative legal history, feminist and queer theory, and the cultural and intellectual history of the fin-de-siècle. 

This constellation of interests led me to the topic of my current book manuscript Circulating Subjects: The Traffic in Women and the Russian Invention of an International Crime.  This book draws on the dissertation I wrote for my PhD at Harvard University. Building on research conducted in fourteen archives across Moscow, St Petersburg, Odessa, Geneva and London, it examines the emergence of 'trafficking in women' as a specific crime in turn of the century Russia, and links this to the development of international humanitarian law, migratory regimes, and imperial governance. In addition, I have written on ‘obscene materials’ as objects of prohibition in early international criminal law, gender and socialist consumer culture, the social and legal history of prostitution in Moscow and St Petersburg since 1600, and the gendered dynamics of the Russian refugee crisis.

After finishing my PhD, I spent a year as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Laureate Research Program in International History at the University of Sydney, Australia, where I will also be a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow in August 2017.  I am currently co-investigator on the three-year AHRC project Trafficking, Smuggling and Illicit Migration in Gendered and Historical Perspective, c.1870-2000, alongside Dr Julia Laite (Birkbeck). In 2017-2018 I will also hold a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, for the project 'Russia's Global Legal Trajectories: International Law in Eurasia Past and Present.' Over the years, my research has  been funded by fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Australian Research Council,  and the Edward J. Safra Center for the Study of Ethics. Alongside lecturing and research, I currently sit on the editorial collective of the journal Gender & History, co-edit the book reviews section of H-HistSex (the primary online forum for the study of the history of sexuality) and was the first editor of Russian Studies Dissertation Reviews (2011-2013).

Teaching summary

  • SEHI1004 Frontiers of History
  • SEHI6012 Short Taught Dissertation
  • SESS3110 The Crisis of 1989 and the New Global Revolution

I'm always happy and eager to write letters of recommendation for my students, to support their future study, research and employment plans. Please follow the guidelines below if you would like a letter of recommendation; not doing so might make it difficult for me to provide the letter:

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FHEA, Education | 2018
Harvard University
PhD, History | 2014
Harvard University
AM, History | 2010
University of Sydney
BA, History | 2006


I grew up in Australia, went to high school for three years in the UK, and studied Russian history over the course of six years of postgraduate training in the United States.  After finishing an undergraduate degree in history at the University of Sydney in 2006, I spent a year teaching English and improving my Russian in St Petersburg, before moving to Boston, Massachusetts to do a PhD in History and Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University.  I received my PhD in May 2014, after which I returned to Sydney to become a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Laureate Research Program in International History during the year 2014-2015, before beginning at UCL SSEES in September 2015.