This is the first full-length history of Russian peasant women in the 20th century in English. Filling a significant gap in the literature on rural studies and gender studies of the twentieth century Russia, it is the first to take the story into the twenty-first century. It offers a comprehensive overview of regulations concerning rural women: their employment patterns; marriages, divorces and family life; issues with health and raising children. Rural lives in the Soviet Union were often dramatically different from the common narrative of the Soviet history, and even during the Khrushchev "Thaw" in the late 1950s and early 1960s, rural women were excluded from its reforms and liberating policies.
The author, Luibov Denisova - a leading expert in the field of rural gender history in Russia - includes material from previously unavailable or unpublished collections and archives; interviews; sociological research and oral traditions. Overall, the book is a history of all rural women, from ordinary farm girls to agrarian professionals to prostitutes and paints a unique picture of rural womenâ€™s life in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia.
"The research [which originally appeared in the two Russian books] presented here for the first time in English, is a pioneering work on peasant women and the family. Brilliantly researched, this book will revise our understandings of life in the Russian village in the 20th century." - Professor Lynne Viola, University of Toronto, Canada
"This epic book about Russian village and the great role that rural women played in it will undoubtedly open a new era in the existing historiography and will become a new voice in telling the history of Russia. It will resonate in hearts and minds of readers inside and outside Russia." - Professor Nikolai Ivnitskii, Department of History, Russian Academy of Sciences
"This volume explores a topic rarely addressed by historians: the private lives of Soviet women in the countryside. This is an important book that will simulate debate on women's position under both the Soviet and post-Soviet regimes, and will underscore the need for contemporary Russian sociologists, feminists, and policymakers to distinguish between urban and rural women in their discussions of women and women's issues." - Professor Roberta Manning, Department of History, Boston College, USA
"Rural and gender historian Denisova has produced a rich, groundbreaking history of Russian women during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. Using a bevy of archival sources and interviews with rural women from a variety of social and economic backgrounds, Denisova's book represents a considerable addition to understanding women's history outside Russia's urban centers. Ably translated by Irina Mukhina of Assumption College, the book is particularly noteworthy since it is the first full-length history of 20th century Russian peasant women available in English… The book deserves the attention of historians of gender and Russia alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." - C. J. Ward, CHOICE (September 2011)
PART I. Employment patterns among rural women 1. Unskilled labor in the countryside 2. Female mechanics and machines operators 3. Women at the animal wards 4. Women as collective farm leaders and agricultural specialists 5. Rural intelligentsia 6. Migration to cities and the position of newcomers PART II. Private Life 7. The politics of private life: the evolution and transformation of the Soviet Family Code 8. Marriages 9. Conflicts and divorces 10. Domostroi 11. Alcoholism in the countryside 12. The female face of the criminal world 13. Women of the oldest profession 14. Religion 15. Triple-burden lifestyle 16. Household chores 17. The special environment of the village life 18. Protection of childhood and motherhood in the countryside 19. Abortions