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April 2002
240 pages  

6 x 9
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Celebrating Women
Gender, Festival Culture, and Bolshevik Ideology, 1910–1939
Chatterjee, Choi
Choi Chatterjee analyzes both Bolshevik attitudes towards women and the invented state rituals surrounding Women’s Day to demonstrate the ways these celebrations helped construct gender notions in the Soviet Union.

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Choi Chatterjee is associate professor of history at California State University, Los Angeles.
“This innovative book examines the contradictory promises the Soviet state made to women. Examining a wide-range of media, from theater to cartoons, Choi Chatterjee makes a compelling case for distinctive form of Soviet modernity embodied in the new Soviet woman.”—Lynn Mally, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine

“Extremely well researched. . . . Adds a great deal to our understanding of the cultural history of Russia from the immediate prerevolutionary period through the 1930s.”-Melanie Ilic, American Historical Review, June 2003

“Chatterjee’s laudably eclectic approach to International Women’s Day allows her to paint a vivid picture of the opportunism that motivated the incorporation of IWD into the Soviet calendar. . . . Successfully illustrates the emblematic nature of IWD as an instance of early Soviet culture . . . will find an enthusiastic readership among those interested in the history of feminism in Russia, as well as those looking for a broader understanding of women’s roles in Russian revolutionary culture.”--Julie A. Cassiday, The Russian Review, July 2003

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Russian and East European Studies Table of Contents
Russia and East Europe/History Read a selection from this book

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Copenhagen in 1910 and adopted by the Bolsheviks in 1913 as a means to popularize their political program among factory women in Russia. By 1918, Women’s Day had joined May Day and the anniversary of the October Revolution as the most important national holidays on the calendar. Choi Chatterjee analyzes both Bolshevik attitudes towards women and invented state rituals surrounding Women’s Day in Russia and the early Soviet Union to demonstrate the ways in which these celebrations were a strategic form of cultural practice that marked the distinctiveness of Soviet civilization, legitimized the Soviet mission for women, and articulated the Soviet construction of gender. Unlike previous scholars who have criticized the Bolsheviks’ for repudiating their initial commitment to Marxist feminism, Chatterjee has discovered considerable continuity in the way that they imagined the ideal woman and her role in a communist society. Through the years, Women’s Day celebrations temporarily empowered women as they sang revolutionary songs, acted as strong protagonists in plays, and marched in processions carrying slogans about gender equality. In speeches, state policies, reports, historical sketches, plays, cartoons, and short stories, the passive Russian woman was transformed into an iconic Soviet Woman, one who could survive, improvise, and prevail over the most challenging of circumstances.


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