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Russian/Eurasian Studies Program, Jewish Studies Program, and Gender and Sexuality Studies Program present

Backward Wives or Agents of Revolution? Jews and Gender in Interwar Soviet Life

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Elissa Bemporad
Queens College, CUNY

By focusing on the ways in which one specific group of Jews negotiated between Communism and Jewish identity, Dr. Bemporad will discuss Jewish women’s distinctive path to Sovietization in the interwar period. A wide range of visions of both the Bolshevik experiment and Jewish women’s path to Sovietization influenced the gender discourse on the Jewish street and affected the shifting roles that women came to play in the political, cultural and social life of the Soviet system. Female empowerment, which would have been a natural outgrowth of the Soviets’ commitment to gender equality, eventually met and collided with male empowerment, as Jewish men began to view the “new Soviet Jewish woman” as a dangerous threat to their status, perhaps even more than their non-Jewish counterparts.

Elissa Bemporad holds the Jerry and William Ungar Assistant Professorship in Eastern European Jewish History and the Holocaust at Queens College, City University of New York. She was trained at the University of Bologna and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She received a PhD in history from Stanford University and is most recently the author of Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk (forthcoming with Indiana University Press), which received the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History awarded by the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide for an outstanding work of 20th century history.

Time: 4:45 pm

Location: Olin 201