Skip to main content

In the Shadow of the Great Reforms: The Invisible Women’s Agency in Russian Empire (1855-1870)

Central European University (Vienna)
Friday, January 27, 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Speaker: Masha Bratishcheva, PhD student in history, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa
Commentary: Johanna Gehmacher, professor of Gender History, University of Vienna

Abstract: The period of the great reforms in Russia (1855–1862) coincides with the women’s movement blossoming in Europe. Despite legal advantages and efforts of distinct activists, the history of Russian women’s movement remains scarce. With several exceptions, the principal makers of the movements are invisible in the narrative of the 19th century history. Ignorance of women’s experience and patronizing attitude from historians created a paradox: until recently, scholars prescribed men the definitive role in the formation of the feminist thought in Russia. Unlike English or American suffragists, Russians did not overstep the law; en mass, they chose a path of piecemeal inclusion of female gender in state institutions.  Still, they were active, and their impact into building the post-reform society must be restored. My research balances the representation of male and female actors in the women’s movement and analyse the nature of women’s agency which was blurred and obliviated in a grand historical narrative. Instead of defining women as a supplement to the male public sphere, I propose to explore the limits of their ability to act as independent actors on different levels of public life -- on pages of the thick journals, in managing enterprises, and lobbying for the right for higher education. 


Join Zoom Meeting…

Meeting ID: 912 3039 4007
Passcode: 4n3vux


After the lecture, listeners can enjoy a small drink at the Department of Gender Studies.