Richard Stites and the Russian Women’s Movement
The HSE library in Saint Petersburg opened an exhibition of Richard Stites’ books, dedicated to the Russian women’s movement, on International Women’s Day.
Stites’ book ‘The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860-1930’ was first published in 1978. At the beginning of the 21st century it was recognized as a classic work on women's rights and translated and published in Russian.
The book offers the first comprehensive study of the women's movement in Russia from the reign of Nicholas I to the 1930s.
In his work, Stites analyzed the rise of the women's movement between 1850 and 1860 and its development during the radicalization of the views of the participants, who preferred revolutionary methods of struggle to the charity that initiated women’s rights activity in Russia.
The author analyzed different sources for his research, including personal documents of the movement members, memoirs, documents from different organizations, literature etc. This approach helped him to consider each stage of the movement from different points of view, and encouraged other researchers to continue analyzing the issues he had raised.
Stites later returned to this subject many times. In 1981 the article ‘Women and Communist Revolutions: Some Comparative Observations’ was published. In this article the author compares the development of the feminist movement in five Communist states: Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba and Yugoslavia.
In 1983 he published the article ‘Prostitute and Society in Pre-Revolutionary Russia’, in which he analyzed the organization of urban space, the place of women in society, the institution of marriage, religious ethos, and the activity of the police and medical institutions when dealing with prostitution.
The exhibition has been organized with the assistance of Alexander Semyonov, Head of the Department of History, and Valentina Smirnova, history student and Research Assistant at the Centre for Historical Research.
The Richard Stites Memorial Library opened in Saint Petersburg on June 4, 2015 with the help of the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History at the American University in Washington, the Russian Embassy in Washington, and the Department of North America at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The library contains over 1500 books on history, social sciences and humanities, including English translations of works by Russian philosophers, historians, and publicists.
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