Dear friends of theatre, Alexandra Kollontai and feminist history,

With the author's permission and with the help of her many suggestions, I have completed a translation of Agneta Pleijel's 1979 play (in Swedish) about Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1945).

As a young Russian woman Kollontai immersed herself in Marxist writings and spoke often at political meetings before the 1917 Russian Revolution. She militated both for the liberation of workers, and in particular women workers, and for sexual equality, She travelled abroad to socialist meetings and conferences on the "woman question". Able to speak effectively in a number of languages and well versed in Marxist theory (she published articles, books, broadsides), she became a key figure in the Marxist/Bolshevik movement. When the Revolution came she was the first (and for a while the only) woman appointed to the government (first female People's Commissar).

By 1922 the Russian government decided to send her abroad as a diplomat and she served as envoy and later ambassador (another first for a woman) in Norway, Mexico and Sweden. Probably thanks to her distance from the grim purges in Moscow in the 1930s, she was one of a very few "old Bolsheviks" to survive the era of the purges and show trials.

The play text includes two essays, one by the author about Kollontai and the revision of the play in 1979, and the other by Alf Sjoberg, who directed the play in Stockholm in 1979. Sjoberg had met Kollontai while she was ambassador in Stockholm and adds his own very stimulating views on the role of theatre in art and society.

What Pleijel and I are hoping is that the play can be made available to English-speaking friends of theatre, early 20th Russian history, feminism, etc. This might take the form of publication, posting on a website and hopefully even a stage production. So, as much as anything, I'd like to hear from you with ideas on that.

Be well,
Harald Hille

Read now!

Deadlines Extended to September 15, 2015 for the AWSS Graduate Research and Essay Prizes.

Call for Submissions: 2015 AWSS Graduate Research Prize

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) Graduate Research Prize is awarded biennially to fund promising graduate level research in any field of Slavic/East European/Central Asian studies by a woman or on a topic in Women's or Gender Studies related to Slavic Studies/East Europe/Central Asia by either a woman or a man. Graduate students who are at any stage of master's or doctoral level research are eligible.

The grant can be used to support expenses related to completion of a dissertation, as well as travel, services, and/or materials. The award carries a cash prize of $1,000. Nominations and self-nominations are welcome. In addition to two letters of recommendation, please send a CV, a letter of application in which you outline how the money will be used and why it is necessary for progress on the project and, if appropriate, a list of archives and/or libraries or other research resources that you plan to use.

Completed submissions must be received by September 15, 2015. Please send them to Committee Chair, Sharon Kowalsky, Associate Professor of History, Texas A&M, Commerce:

PLEASE NOTE: The AWSS Graduate Research Prize is given biennially and will next be awarded in 2017.

Current Bibliography

Now available: WEW v1 & v2 January-June 2015

Call for Nominations, 2015 AWSS Outstanding Achievement Award

The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes the work of a scholar in the field of Slavic Studies, who has also served as a mentor to female students/colleagues in this field. To submit a nomination, please write a letter detailing what your candidate for this award has achieved in Slavic Studies in terms of scholarship or other professional accomplishment, and mentoring of female students/colleagues. In addition, please provide a short list of references with accompanying email addresses so that the committee can contact these referees directly for further information. The committee recommends that this list include both peers and students/staff. A list of past Outstanding Achievement Award recipients is available here.

Please email your letter and list by September 15, 2015 to Choi Chatterjee (Chair) at:, Elizabeth Hemenway at: and Karen Petrone at:

Call for Submissions: 2015 Graduate Essay Prize

AWSS invites submissions for the 2015 Graduate Essay Prize. The prize is awarded to the author of a chapter or article-length essay on any topic in any field or area of Slavic/East European/Central Asian Studies written by a woman, or on a topic in Slavic/East European/Central Asian Women's/Gender Studies written by a woman or a man. This competition is open to current doctoral students and to those who defended a doctoral dissertation in 2014-2015. If the essay is a seminar paper, it must have been written during the academic year 2014-2015. If the essay is a dissertation chapter, it should be accompanied by the dissertation abstract and table of contents. Previous submissions and published materials are ineligible. Essays should be no longer than 50 double-spaced pages, including reference matter, and in English (quoted text in any other language should be translated). Completed submissions must be received by September 15, 2015. Please send a copy of the essay and an updated CV to each of the three members of the Prize Committee as email attachments. Please address any questions to the chair of the prize committee.


Professor Karen Petrone, Committee Chair
Department of History
University of Kentucky

Professor Janet Johnson Associate Professor, Political Science & Women's Studies
Brooklyn College, City University of New York

Professor Adrienne Harris
Associate Professor of Russian
Baylor University

Call for Nominations: 2015 Mary Zirin Prize

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) is pleased to announce a call for nominations for the Mary Zirin Prize in recognition of an independent scholar in the field of Slavic Studies. The award of $500 is named for Mary Zirin, the founder of Women East-West. Working as an independent scholar, Zirin produced and encouraged fundamental works in Slavic/East European Women's Studies and has been instrumental in the development of the AWSS. The Prize aims to recognize the achievements of independent scholars and to encourage their continued scholarship and service in the fields of Slavic or Central and Eastern European Women's Studies. The Committee encourages the nomination of candidates at all career stages. For the purpose of this award, an independent scholar is defined as a scholar who is not employed at an institution of higher learning, or an employee of a university or college who is not eligible to compete for institutional support for research (for example, those teaching under short-term contracts or working in administrative posts). We welcome nominations from CIS and Central and Eastern Europe. The Zirin Prize Committee will accept nominations (including self-nominations) until September 1, 2015.

Nominations must include: (1) a nomination letter of be no more than two-pages double-spaced; (2) the nominee's current curriculum vitae; and (3) a sample publication (e.g., article or book chapter). The nomination letter must describe the scholar's contribution to the field, as well as work in progress. Nominations should be sent to Marilyn Smith at, or by postal mail to Marilyn Schwinn Smith, 14 Allen Street, Amherst, MA 01002.

2015 Heldt Prize

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies invites nominations for the 2015 Competition for the Heldt Prizes, awarded for works of scholarship. To be eligible for nomination, all books and articles for the first three prize categories must be published between 15 April 2014 and 15 April 2015. The publication dates for the translation prize, which is offered every other year, are 15 April 2013 to 15 April 2015. Nominations for the 2015 prizes will be accepted for the following categories:

  1. Best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's studies;
  2. Best article in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's studies;
  3. Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian studies.
  4. Best translation in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's studies.

One may nominate individual books for more than one category, and more than one item for each category. Articles included in collections as well as journals are eligible for the "best article" prize, but they must be nominated individually. The prizes will be awarded at the AWSS meeting at the ASEEES National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, in November 2015.

To nominate any work, please send or request that the publisher send one copy to each of the four members of the Prize committee by 15 May 2015:

Betsy Jones Hemenway, Chair, Heldt Prize Committee
(Loyola University Chicago)
1356 W. Greenleaf Avenue, Unit 3
Chicago, IL 60626

Yana Hashamova
Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures
400 Hagerty Hall; 1775 College Road
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210

Mary Neuberger
University of Texas
2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600
Austin, TX 78712

Ali İğmen, Ph.D.
California State University, Long Beach
Department of History
1250 Bellflower Blvd, MS 1601
Long Beach, CA 90840-1601

2014 Outstanding Achievement Award

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award is Diane Koenker, Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She was director of the Russian and East European Center at the University of Illinois from 1990 to 1996, and served as editor of Slavic Review from 1996 to 2006. Last year, she served as president of the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies after having served this organization in many other roles. A distinguished scholar, valued mentor, collaborative colleague, and advocate for gender research and women's place in academia, Dr. Koenker embodies the scholarly and collegial values espoused by the AWSS.

Dr. Koenker has generated path-breaking scholarship that has contributed significantly to modern Russian history, specifically in the fields of women's and labor history. She has published four monographs, six edited books, and numerous articles. Her dissertation project and first book, Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution, was one of the first works to explore questions of gender and family in the Soviet context. Throughout her career, she has insisted in her scholarship and in the classroom that gender history not be isolated from the field of Russian history, but inform and be informed by its broader research themes and methodologies. She continues to make gender a central mode of analysis even as she explores new themes, having recently published Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream, a monograph on Soviet tourism and leisure and its relation to family, gender, and sex.

Whether in collaborative research projects, in her department, or among her students, Dr. Koenker pursues collaborative relationships by creating an environment that encouraged mutual support and critique, and by demonstrating the value of respectful dialogue. Former doctoral students of Professor Koenker call her "a model supervisor." Many of her students are grateful for the way that she encouraged them to pursue research topics and ideas that interested them, while generously offering training and expertise in methodology. Her doctoral students have succeeded not just due to her guidance in graduate school, but also beyond it, as she willingly supplied recommendations and advice for the job market, promotions, and grant competitions. She encouraged and pushed her students to achieve their best while modelling a well-balanced life and attention to aspects of life beyond the academy. Many female students praise her as "an unparalleled role model for women in the academy," citing instances of Dr. Koenker's encouragement and defense of their place in academia.

Dr. Koenker has throughout her career worked on the issues central to the Association for Women in Slavic Studies. Not only has her research been "deeply attentive to questions of gender," but she has also questioned and worked against gender inequities in the field of Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. She has also forged new paths, becoming the first female editor of Slavic Review.

For her scholarly achievements, her advocacy of women's and gender studies, and her generous mentorship of students and fellow scholars, we honor Professor Koenker with the AWSS Outstanding Achievement Award.

2014 Mary Zirin Prize

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is pleased to announce Galina Mardilovich as recipient of the 2014 Mary Zirin Prize.

Dr. Mardilovich received her PhD. from the University of Cambridge (Pembroke College) for her thesis "Printmaking in Late Imperial Russia." While working on this degree, she served as an intern at Christie's Russian Art Department, a research assistant in the Department of Drawings and Prints and a pre-doctoral fellow at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The quality of her scholarship has led to grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Getty Research Institute, the Francis Haskell Memorial Fund, Pembroke College, the Gates Cambridge Fund, and Kettle's Yard Travel Fund. Dr. Mardilovich's history of convening academic seminars, chairing panels and presenting at conferences extends to post-degree, invited lectures in London, Oxford, St. Petersburg, and New York, this last lecture scheduled for February 2015.

In awarding the Zirin Prize to Galina Mardilovich, the committee recognizes the high degree of scholarship demonstrated in the essay submitted for our consideration, "Russkie Akvafortisty: The Society of Russian Etchers and Early Artistic Organisation in the Russian Art World, 1871-1875." Dr. Mardilovich's scholarship advances our knowledge of Russian art beyond the well-known schools of painting and into the broader societal structures which fostered, or inhibited, the advance of art in Russia. Of particular interest to the AWSS is her attention to women, expanding our appreciation for the justly celebrated position of women artists in Russia.

2014 Graduate Essay Prize

We are very pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Olga Sasunkevich of European Humanities University, Vilnius, as this year's award recipient. Dr. Sasunkevich received her degree from Greifswald University, Germany in June of 2014, and currently serves as a lecturer in the Department of Media and the executive co-director of the Center for Gender Studies at EHU. She submitted a chapter entitled "Shuttle Trade and Gender Relations: Female World in a Provincial Border Town," from her dissertation on the history of the female shuttle trade on the Belarus-Lithuania borderland between 1990 and 2011.

Dr. Sasunkevich combines the stories of individual women with a sophisticated analysis of the economic gender segregation, the female labor market, and networks of social solidarity that determine the female-dominated world of illegal or semi-legal trading in goods that vary from cigarettes to children's toys. Employing statistical data, regulatory and legal documents, and oral history interviews with eighteen women—and an innovative essay contest—her findings challenge the stereotype of women as passive victims of a post-Soviet patriarchal system, evaluating this informal economy instead as a resource used by post-Soviet women for economic empowerment.

2014 Heldt Prize

Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian studies

Kate Brown. Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

In her outstanding second monograph, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, Kate Brown advances a shockingly new understanding of the Cold War. Based on her deep research and detailed interviews with survivors and victims at two plutonium complexes: Ozersk in the southern Urals regions of the former Soviet Union, and Richland in eastern Washington state in the United States, Brown writes a transnational account about the nuclear age that challenges most of the conceptual foundations that undergird our field. At one level Brown recounts an exciting story of the nuclear establishments in the United States and the Soviet Union as they raced to produce nuclear grade weapons. While both commandeered labor and resources on a wartime footing, in the United States it led to the unprecedented collusion between state and corporations, and in the Soviet Union there was a belated recognition that the gulag economy had a limited shelf life. Both sides came to the conclusion that the modern consumer society was the best way to motivate people to work hard, without complaints or questions. Brown writes a deeper and counter-intuitive history of modernization where access to consumer goods, good schools, individual living space, and "safe" communities for some comes at the cost of relinquishing democratic rights of freedom of expression, accepting social inequality, and turning a blind eye to the horrific damage to the environment and public health. It is ironic that American economic "plenty" and Soviet "dearth" produced similar ecological and public health results, and not surprisingly, both governments tried to block Brown's access to the records. Brown's new paradigm of the Cold war will inspire debates among Russian and American historians, and scholars of globalization, world, transnational, and environmental history will benefit greatly from her morally compelling and elegantly framed arguments. The AWSS Committee is very proud to award the Heldt Prize in the category of Best Book by a Woman in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies to Dr. Kate Brown.
Honorable Mention: Madeleine Reeves, Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014.

Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia is an extraordinary account of the relationship between the state and society. Its author, anthropologist Dr. Madeleine Reeves, understands the ethnographies of the people and their politicians well in the borderlands of the Ferghana Valley, the meeting place of three former Soviet republics, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Dr. Reeves successfully captures the messy history of territory and border construction during the twentieth-century in Soviet Central Asia. She also illustrates the urgent ways in which the current modes of governance have mutated and sustained in real life circumstances. Her account pays special attention to the intimate and intimidating "gaps" of the "chessboard" or sieve-like borders of the Ferghana Valley. Border Work exposes the complexities and contradictions of the post-Soviet drive for legitimate independence and undocumented realities of everyday labor, trade and movement. Dr. Reeves's deep engagement with the people of these border towns, coupled with her sophisticated theoretical analyses of gendered lives demonstrates the previously unexplored capabilities of the people of this region. This remarkable book enriches the scholarship on the study of borders by engaging everyday practices of rural populations and their interactions with authority figures such as "a pair of conscript soldiers with Kalashnikov rifles, a paper ledger, and a stamp." Dr. Reeves' book has received Honorable Mention in the category of Best Book by a Woman in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies.

Best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's studies

Jenny Kaminer, Women with a Thirst for Destruction: The Bad Mother in Russian Culture. Evanston, ILL: Northwestern University Press, 2013.

Lucid and accessible, Women with a Thirst for Destruction: The Bad Mother in Russian Culture differs from previous gender studies on the mother archetype in Russian culture not only in its detailed analysis of representations of the bad mother in three crucial periods of Russian and Soviet history, but also in posing two key questions about the multifaceted and intangible central maternal figure in Russian culture. By focusing on the three upheavals, the Emancipation of the serfs, the Russian Revolution, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, which intensely impacted the mother-discourse, and the decades after them, Jenny Kaminer asks whether the bad mother reasserts the centrality of the mother archetype or if it reveals the imperfection of this figure which can no longer sustain the same cultural power as it had in early times. Well worth reading, the perceptive gender analysis of contextualized literary works and its reflective quality build a captivating argument and present a major contribution to Russian gender and cultural studies. This rich, powerful, and thought-provoking account by Dr. Kaminer has been awarded the Heldt Prize in the category of Best Book in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Women's Studies.
Honorable Mention: Paula Michaels, Lamaze: An International History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Dr. Paula Michaels' Lamaze: An International History offers a fascinating recounting of the history of the well-known method of relaxation that so commonly accompanies natural childbirth today in United States. What is less known and offered in detail in this well-researched and beautifully written monograph, is that the practice originated in the Soviet Union during the early years of the Cold War. With an innovative transnational approach, Michaels traces how French scientist, Ferdinand Lamaze visited the Soviet Union in 1951 and "discovered" the method, while witnessing its use in natural (drug-free) childbirth. This technique, psychoprophylaxis (conditioned response), grew largely out of the famous methods developed earlier by the famous Russian/Soviet scientist, Ivan Pavlov. Dr. Lamaze popularized the method in France in the 1950s, and "Lamaze" made its way to the US in the 1970s, where it has retained its popularity. Michaels tells this complex story through her adroit reading of a wide variety of sources, in a history that addresses many of the concerns of social, political and intellectual history, as well as the history of science. Paula Michael's monograph has received Honorable Mention for the Heldt Prize in the category of Best Book in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Women's Studies.

Best article in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's studies

Francesca Stella, "Queer Space, Pride, and Shame in Moscow," Slavic Review, no. 3 (Fall 2013).

In this nuanced and complex essay about the LGBT movement in Russia and its attempts to achieve inclusion and visibility within Russia as well as abroad, Stella examines the constraints that local movements face when they are endorsed by powerful global actors and transnational organizations in the face of government oppression at home. Based on extensive research in Moscow as well as in the provinces, the article demonstrates that the LGBT community has been able to claim neighborhoods, bars, and cultural spaces in Moscow as their own and has been accorded a level of tolerance as long as their members keep a low profile and do not openly advertise their lifestyle choices. Although Moscow aspires to be a multicultural and diverse global city, the avowed homophobia of the Kremlin and that of the Muscovite cultural and political authorities, prevents it endorsing the vociferous Gay Pride demonstrations that have become customary in cities around the world during the last decade. Stella deftly shows that the LGBT community in contemporary Russia has to navigate the rocky shoals of both local and transnational politics in order to create an authentic movement that is not a replica of global models, while warding off the unwarranted intrusions and violence against them that is covertly sanctioned by the Kremlin. The Committee awards Francesca Stella the prize for the Best Article in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Women's Studies.

AWSS-L Listserv

The AWSS listserv, located at, is a service provided to AWSS members. The listserv carries bi-weekly job lists and daily announcements of interest to members as well as discussions on current topics and problems in Eurasian/Central/Eastern European women's studies. If you would like to post a job ad, please send the relevant information to Emily Liverman ( June Pachuta Farris and other librarians and scholars are generous with research help.

AWSS on Facebook

Meet me on Facebook! The Association for Women in Slavic Studies has moved into the 21st century with its own page on Facebook. Join us there and become a friend of women in Slavic studies!

Aspasia: International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History

AWSS members receive a 25% discount

ASPASIA is an English-language international peer-reviewed yearbook that brings out the best scholarship in the field of interdisciplinary women's and gender history focused on and produced in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. This region includes such countries as Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Ukraine. In these countries the field of women's and gender history has developed unevenly and has remained only marginally represented in the "international" canon. Through its contributions, ASPASIA transforms "European women's history" into more than Western European women's history, as is still often the case, and expands the comparative angle of research on women and gender to all parts of Europe.

For further information regarding manuscript submissions and subscriptions, click here.