Professor of Russian and East European Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Women from the state socialist countries in Eastern Europe—what used to be called the Second World—once dominated women’s activism at the United Nations, but their contributions have been largely forgotten or deemed insignificant in comparison with those of Western feminists. In this talk, Kristen Ghodsee will seek to rescue some of this lost history by tracing the activism of Eastern European and African women during the 1975 United Nations International Year of Women and the subsequent Decade for Women (1976-1985). Focusing on case studies of state socialist Bulgaria and nonaligned but socialist-leaning Zambia, she will examine the feminist networks that developed between the Second and Third Worlds and show how alliances between socialist women challenged American women’s leadership of the global women’s movement. Drawing on interviews and archival research across three continents, Ghodsee will argue that international ideological competition between capitalism and socialism profoundly shaped the world women inhabit today.
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Kristen R. Ghodsee is Professor of Russian and East European Studies and a Member of the Graduate Group in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications such as The New Republic, The Lancet, Ms. Magazine, Le Monde Diplomatique, TAZ, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She is also the author of ten books, most recently: Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women’s Activism and Global Solidarity during the Cold War (2019), and Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence (2018 and 2020). Her latest book is Taking Stock of the Shock: Social Impacts of Transition in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, co-authored with Mitchell A. Orenstein. Ghodsee has held visiting fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki in Finland, and at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, and at SciencesPo. She was also awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in Anthropology and Cultural Studies.