“By nature, women are better with babies than men”. The Role of Fathers in Late Soviet Russia”

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor, IRES Library
  • Website
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
  • Phone: 018 471 1630
  • Föreläsning

with Dr. Helene Carlbäck (CBEES)

In research on fatherhood in Soviet Russia, frequently a model is outlined as a family regime with marginalized fathers, replaced by a liaison of working mothers supported by the Soviet state providing extensive day care facilities, and by the existence of extended motherhood through the grandmothers. The fathers appear as absent, redundant and not-in-demand. Helene Carlbäck’s results, however, point to a more complex picture.

Dr. Carlbäck bases her study on interviews with men in Russia, who had children in the period of 1960s-1980s sharing memories with her on being fathers. They reveal thoughts about what makes a good father and perceptions of a gendered parenthood. Viewing “fatherhood” as partly being a social construction, Dr. Carlbäck addresses the problem of memories being recalled in one cultural and social setting about practices experienced in another period. She tries out concepts mainly from studies of fatherhood in Scandinavia, the US and the UK, such as “present”, “absent”, “involved”, “caring”, “role model” and “being a man in control of his emotions” to detect ideals and practices of fatherhood in Soviet Russia. Dr. Carlbäck also applies gendered categories such as “head of the family” and “main bread winner” in finding out her informants’ perceived role in family life.

Helene Carlbäck is an Associate Professor (emerita), researcher at the Center for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University. Her current research interest is public discourse, legal norms and lived experience of marriage, family and fatherhood in Soviet Russia; she is the author of several articles and book-chapter on this topic, in English, Swedish and Russian. She is the co-editor of “Gender Transitions in Russia and Eastern Europe (2005) and “They Lived Happily Ever After. Norms and Everyday Practices of Family and Parenthood in Russia and Eastern Europe” (2012). Carlbäck is currently working on a book manuscript, “Fatherhood after Stalin. Gender and the Family in Soviet Russia” (to be published at I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury).