Village Mothers

Village Mothers

Three Generations of Change in Russia and Tataria
David L. Ransel
Distribution: World
Publication date: 04/15/2005
Format: Paperback 21 b&w photos, 1 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21820-9
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Description

Village Mothers
Three Generations of Change in Russia and Tataria
David L. Ransel

Three generations of Russian and Tatar women speak out about how they coped with marriage, abortion, birthing, and child rearing over the course of the 20th century.

As much of this study is based on oral histories from a spread of villages across central European Russia it provides fascinating insights into shifts in women’s perceptions and behaviors spanning much of the twentieth century. It is the scope of these personal histories and the detail they have generated which make this book particularly impressive.... a very accessible and colorful text." —Susan Bridger

Village Mothers describes the reception of modern medical ideas and practices by three generations of Russian and Tatar village women in the 20th century. It first traces the entry of Western medical discourse on reproduction into Russia and its extension to the countryside during the Soviet period. Using the village mothers’ own words, as captured in 100 oral interviews collected by the author and his collaborators in the early 1990s, David L. Ransel shows how the women mediated the inherited beliefs of their families and communities, the claims of the state to control reproduction, and their personal desires for a better life. The interviews tell of willing acceptance of some changes and selective acceptance of or outright resistance to others. The women interviewed were subject to powerful forces beyond their control, ranging from patriarchal tyranny to civil war governmental coercion and violence, famine, and world war. Their testimonies, however, reveal the strategies by which they maintained a measure of personal control and choice that enabled them to build a sense of independence, endure hardship, and give meaning to their lives. These personal histories and the detailed information they convey about everyday life in rural Soviet communities provide an important and fascinating portrait

Author Bio

David L. Ransel is Professor of History and Director of the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. He has served as editor of Slavic Review and American Historical Review. He is author of The Politics of Catherinian Russia: The Panin Party and Mothers of Misery: Child Abandonment in Russia. He is also editor of The Family in Imperial Russia: New Lines of Historical Research, Village Life in Late Tsarist Russia (Indiana University Press), and co-editor (with Jane Burbank) of Imperial Russia: New Histories for the Empire (Indiana University Press).

Reviews

“Three generations of Russian and Tatar women speak out about marriage, abortion, birthing, and child-rearing practices over the course of the 20th century. “[A]n outstanding work of historical ethnography. . . . It is unique in its scope and its intimate knowledge of rural life.” —Russian Review "[A] major contribution to the field. . . . an important book that should be of considerable interest to medical historians and historians of peasants, the family, and of women.” —American Historical Review “[A]n outstanding work of historical ethnography. . . . The book offers wonderful insight into how women created and understood the great changes of the 20th century. It is unique in its scope and its intimate knowledge of rural life.” —Russian Review “[A] major contribution to the field. . . . an important book that should be of considerable interest to medical historians and historians of peasants, the family, and of women.” —American Historical Review Village Mothers describes the reception of modern medical ideas and practices by three generations of Russian and Tatar village women in the 20th century. Using the village mothers’ own words, David L. Ransel shows how the women mediated the inherited beliefs of their families and communities, the claims of the state to control reproduction, and their personal desires for a better life.”

“" . . . fascinating insights into shifts in women's perceptions and behaviors spanning much of the twentieth century. It is the scope of these personal histories and the detail they have generated which make this book particularly impressive. . . . a very accessible and colorful text." —Susan Bridger Village Mothers describes how three generations of Russian and Tatar village women coped with marriage, abortion, birthing, and child rearing in the 20th century.”

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

1. Child Welfare Before the Revolution
2. Soviet Efforts to Transform Village Mothering
3. Courtship and Marriage
4. Fertility Choices
5. Giving Birth
6. Baptism and Equivalent Muslim Rites
7. Coping with Infant Death
8. Child Care
9. Conclusion: Life and Loyalty in Hard Times
Appendix A: List of Informants
Appendix B: Questionnaire
Notes
Bibliography
Index