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The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia

Overview

"Meticulously researched, impressively documented, and engrossingly written,... [it] contributes to a long-overdue reconception of the New Economic Policy (NEP)...." —Choice

"... a well-organized, sophisticated analysis of the difficulties involved in attempting to reconcile ideology with political, economic, and cultural realities.: —The Russian Review

"... a highly persuasive, revealing, and well-documented account of early Bolshevik policy, practice, and language pertaining to the ‘baba problem’ and the unexpected ways female and male comrades ...

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Overview

"Meticulously researched, impressively documented, and engrossingly written,... [it] contributes to a long-overdue reconception of the New Economic Policy (NEP)...." —Choice

"... a well-organized, sophisticated analysis of the difficulties involved in attempting to reconcile ideology with political, economic, and cultural realities.: —The Russian Review

"... a highly persuasive, revealing, and well-documented account of early Bolshevik policy, practice, and language pertaining to the ‘baba problem’ and the unexpected ways female and male comrades responded to the party-state’s tutelary role toward women." —Slavic Review

"This is a rich and densely argued study that embeds the story of the zhenotdel in the context of the political struggles and institutional structures of this formative period of the Russian Revolution. Wood demonstrates clearly the dilemma of whether women party activists should serve the party or their constituents." —American Historical Review

"Wood’s convincing work is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the gender-role traditionalism the Communists reinstitutionalized with their revolution." —The Women’s Review of Books

How could the baba—traditionally, the "backward" Russian woman—be mobilized as a "comrade" in the construction of a new state and society? Drawing on recently opened archives, Elizabeth A. Wood explains why the Bolsheviks proved unable and ultimately unwilling to realize their ideological notions of a gender-neutral society. Focusing on the creation and activities of the zhenotdel, a special women’s section within the Russian Communist Party, Wood reconstructs the ways in which notions of gender sameness and difference both facilitated and complicated Bolshevik efforts at state building during the Civil War and the New Economic Policy.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Women's History
. . . well-researched and skillfully written . . . a welcome addition to the historical narrative on Soviet gender policy.
Booknews
Details the Bolshevik government's campaign to draw women into the public sphere and involve them in the world of politics in the early Soviet years. A central focus is the creation and activities of the , a special women's section within the Russian Communist Party whose mission was to appeal to women workers and to enlist them in the revolutionary struggle. Reconstructs how notions of gender sameness and difference both facilitated and complicated Bolshevik efforts at state building during the civil war and under the New Economic Policy. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Elizabeth A. Wood is Associate Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments

Introduction
I. The Woman Question
1. The Bolsheviks and the Genealogy of the Woman Question

II. Gender in the Context of State-Making and Civil War
2. Sharp Eyes and Tender Hearts: Passing New Legislation and Fighting the Civil War
3. Identity and Organization: Creating the Women's Sections of the Communist Party
4. War Communism at Its Height: Lobbying on Behalf of Women Workers

III. The New Threat to the Social Contract
5. The Liquidation Crisis in Zhenotdel Politics
6. The Crisis in Economics: The Social Contract Endangered
7. The New Threat: Zhenotdel Criticisms of the Social Costs of NEP
8. Daily Life and Gender Transformation

Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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