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

TitleThe Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsWood, Elizabeth A.
Number of Pages318
PublisherIndiana University Press

This well-researched book augments our understanding of women and society in the first decade after the Russian Revolution. In particular, it provides an instructive overview of the Zhenotdel, the women's section of the Communist Party, and the major challenges its central and local sections confronted. Wood enriches the existing tradition of women's history by focusing not only on the experience of real women's lives, but also on "gender as an organizing principle." She investigates how representations of women functioned in Soviet efforts at state-building and the construction of a socialist political and social order. In examining the language and practices of Soviet authorities and women's sections, Wood finds multiple, and often contradictory, conceptions of gender sameness and difference in the struggles over how women would be integrated into the new society. She shows how the image of the baba, a pejorative Russian term used to denote a backward, uneducated woman, was effectively mobilized to serve as a "foil to, and assistant of, the (universal gender-neutral) comrade in the creation of a new Soviet order." [Amy E. Randall]

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