МАГ/The International Association for the Humanities     ЖУРНАЛ МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЙ АССОЦИАЦИИ ГУМАНИТАРИЕВ

AWSS: Ассоциация женщин в славянских исследованиях

2 photo RuthchildПубликуемый ниже текст подготовлен профессором российской истории и гендерных исследований Рошель Ратчилд (Rochelle Rutchild) по просьбе редакции журнала “The Bridge-MOCT”. Он посвящен истории возникновения Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS): Ассоциации женщин в славянских исследованиях – организации, аффилиированной с ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East-European and Eurasian Studies, преемницей AAASS – Американской ассоциации славистов). Профессор Ратчилд – автор многочисленных работ по истории феминизма и борьбы за женское равноправие в Российской империи, в частности, книги “Equality and Revolution: Women’s Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917”.  Ее статья, посвященная еврейской революционерке Эсфири Фрумкиной, “Принести счастье на еврейскую улицу,” была опубликована в сборнике “Женщины на краю Европы,” изданном в Минске в 2003 г.  Профессор Ратчилд является – вместе с Мэри Зирин и некоторыми другами – одной из основательниц AWSS, и мы попросили ее рассказать об истории и интеллектуальных основаниях возникновения этой организации. 


Beginning in the early sixties, I was drawn to social activism and from then on have balanced this activism with my academic work, more or less successfully. In Berkeley in 1968-69 a difficult divorce and the general social climate raised my feminist consciousness and led me to join a consciousness raising group with, among others, Laura X, the pioneering feminist activist and archivist. Moving to Boston in 1969 to teach at Cardinal Cushing College, I joined both Female Liberation and Bread and Roses. This was a heady time, as we challenged traditional stereotypes, gained strength in self-defense classes, fixed our own cars, built and repaired houses, lived communally.

I taught one of the first Women’s Studies courses in the U.S. at Cardinal Cushing College, a conservative women’s college, and when the College closed in 1972, began teaching an ovular (our language reform, replacing seminar) on women’s history at the Goddard-Cambridge Graduate Program for Social Change, a Masters degree program affiliated with Vermont’s Goddard College. In 1974 I became core faculty for the Feminist Studies section, which was considered quite daring at the time for its offerings on women and spirituality, race, class and gender, and lesbian culture.

Blending work and activism left little time for writing, and during this time a letter came to my women’s commune from the University of Rochester stating that I had passed the timeframe to complete my dissertation. I knew that I had to finish; failing to do so meant surrendering to the stereotypes about women’s intellectual inferiority. At that time engaging in such a project was considered by some activists to be a sellout, but I persevered and received my Ph.D. in 1976. My thesis on the Russian feminists was the first on women’s history approved at the University of Rochester. The support of my advisors, Brenda Meehan and Sidney Monas was absolutely crucial to its completion.

I mention all this to put into context the emergence of the AWSS. Many of those who founded the organization had been touched by the second wave of feminism, but found the field of Slavic Studies to be particularly resistant to using gender as a category of analysis. This continues to be the case in the writing, for example, of so-called social histories which largely exclude women. At the time of Barbara Norton’s panel at the 1986 AAASS convention in New Orleans, we were quite concerned about the status of women in our profession. The large number of male only panels, the scarce number of panels about women,  the great preponderance of men in the most visible and better paying jobs in universities and government in our field, the tales of sexual harassment and sexist comments, all these were far too common .

The work of creating an organization moved parallel with Mary Zirin’s  publication of Women East-West and the creation of a women’s caucus at AATSEEL. Our first meeting was at the 1987 Boston AAASS convention, at which we had a luncheon of the women’s caucus. We were encouraged to go forward by AAASS President Ellen Mickiewicz, but susbsequent Presidents in those early years ignored us. Dorothy Atkinson, AAASS Executive Director at that time was warily supportive. It is important to recognize the work done by members of our Organizing Committee, including Diana Greene, Heather Hogan, Esther Kingston-Mann, Ruth Dudgeon, and Barbara Norton in thinking through the structure of the organization beyond the boilerplate by-laws I bought at a legal stationery store. Attorney Lee Goldstein consulted in the preparation of our successful application for IRS tax-exempt status and our registration as a corporation in Massachusetts.  I served as the first President, from 1988-1990.

We wanted to move beyond being simply a caucus, but to be an organizational affiliate of the AAASS. The question of a name was important. We couldn’t think of a catchy acronym and in the end named ourselves the Association for Women in Slavic Studies to emphasize that our membership was open to men as well as women. From the beginning, AWSS has been exceptionally fortunate in those who have volunteered to serve on  committees, the Board and as officers. We have worked together smoothly, and avoided the personality conflicts which have marred the operation of too many organizations.

The 1986 AAASS panel inspired the creation of the AWSS; it also launched efforts to hold a conference on women in Russian history. The Program Committee, consisting of Barbara Evans Clements, Barbara Engel, Brenda Meehan, myself, and Christine Worobec, proved successful in obtaining NEH funding for the conference, held in 1988 in Akron. Selected papers from the conference were published in Russia’s Women: Accommodation, Resistance, Transformation, edited by Barbara Evans Clements, Barbara Alpern Engel, and Christine D. Worobec.

Among our successful initiatives have been the prizes we award for scholarship by women and about women in our field. Barbara Heldt’s gift enabled us to fund the Heldt prizes; now we have the Zirin Prize for independent scholars, the Lifetime Achievement Award and several prizes for young scholars. All have helped raise our profile in the field. Additionally, our travel grants have aided scholars from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to attend conferences in the U.S., Europe and Russia, and to publish the results of their scholarship.

We have made progress since the 1986 AAASS panel. One of the first men to join our organization, Al Meyer, compiled statistics on women’s participation at the AAASS conventions. I took on that task for a number of years. It is a good way to measure the growing presence of women and scholarship about women in our field.

I am delighted to be able to continue to be active in AWSS and to serve as clerk, but I look forward to transferring these responsibilities to a younger scholar. It is heartening to see the next generation take an active part in our organization. We are in good financial shape, and set to continue and expand our activities in the years to come.

I apologize if I have failed to mention someone from the early organizational history of AWSS. I am very grateful to Kris Groberg for her patient persistence in documenting the early herstory of our organization.

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild


2 AWSSВ настоящее время AWSS проводит раз в два года конференцию, посвященную гендерным вопросам славистики (последняя прошла в апреле 2014г., с ее программой можно ознакомиться здесь), издает бюллетень Women East-West (название бюллетеня, который появился в годы перестройки, отражает стремление установить связи между  исследоватальницами по разные стороны океана), а также является учредительницей нескольких премий в области славистики и гендерных исследований (см. ниже). Ассоциация также присуждает небольшие гранты аспирантам для поездок на конференции, ведет список рассылки (куда можно отравить профессиональный вопрос). При содействии членов Ассоциации был основан ежегодник по женской и гендерной истории Центральной и Восточной Европы “Aspasia. The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women’s and Gender History”.

Страница AWSS на ФБ. Присоединяйтесь!


 AWSS Awards

To acknowledge achievements in research and teaching od women in Slavic Studies AWSS administers the following professional awards:


Heldt Prize

The Heldt Prizes is awarded for works of scholarship. Nominations are accepted for the following categories: Best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women’s studies; Best article in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women’s studies; Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian studies.


Outstanding Achievement Award

The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes the work of a scholar in the field of Slavic Studies, who has also served as a mentor to female students/colleagues in this field.


Mary Zirin Prize

The Mary Zirin Prize in recognizes achievements of independent scholars in the field of Slavic Studies.


Graduate Research Prize

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) Graduate Research Prize is awarded biennially to fund promising graduate level research in any field of Slavic/East European/Central Asian studies by a woman or on a topic in Women’s or Gender Studies related to Slavic Studies/East Europe/Central Asia by either a woman or a man. Graduate students who are at any stage of master’s or doctoral level research are eligible.


Graduate Essay Prize

The Graduate Essay Prize is awarded to a chapter or article-length essay on any topic in any field or area of Slavic/East European/Central Asian Studies written by a woman, or on a topic in Slavic/East European/Central Asian Women’s/Gender Studies written by a woman or a man.


Travel Grants

he Association for Women in Slavic Studies offers Travel Grants to scholars from Russia, the CIS, and Eastern Europe to travel to international conferences. Applicant projects must accord with the aims of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies to encourage scholarship in the areas of women’s and gender studies in the former Soviet bloc and/or Eurasia.

The list of past awards recipients is available here.