"The people who struggle against what we call totalitarian regimes cannot function with queries and doubts. They, too, need certainties and simple truths to make the multitudes understand, to provoke collective tears."
-Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Kristen R. Ghodsee is an award-winning 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 been translated into over twenty-five languages and have appeared in publications such as Dissent, Foreign Affairs, Jacobin, The Baffler, The New Republic, Quartz, NBC Think, The Lancet, Project Syndicate, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung, The Washington Post, and the New York Times. She is also the author of eleven books, including: Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women's Activism and Global Solidarity during the Cold War (Duke University Press, 2019) and Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence (Bold Type Books, 2018 and 2020), which has had fifteen international editions. Her latest book is Red Valkyries: Feminist Lessons from Five Revolutionary Women with Verso Books in 2022. She is also the host of the podcast, A.K. 47 - Forty-seven Selections from the Works of Alexandra Kollontai.
Ethnography of Eastern Europe
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Kristen R. Ghodsee was traveling in Europe, and spent the summer of 1990 witnessing first-hand the initial hope and euphoria that followed the sudden and unexpected collapse of state socialism in the former Eastern Bloc. The political and economic chaos that followed inspired Ghodsee to pursue an academic career studying this upheaval, focusing on how ordinary people’s lives – and women’s particularly – changed when state socialism gave way to capitalism. For the last two decades, she has visited the region regularly and lived for over three years in Bulgaria and the Eastern parts of reunified Germany. Now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, her research focuses on gender, socialism, and postsocialism. It examines the everyday experiences of upheaval and displacement that continue to haunt the region to this day.
Ghodsee has held residential research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey; the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University; the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC; the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany; the Imre Kertész Kolleg at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität in Jena, Germany; the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany; the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki in Finland; and the Center for History at Sciences Po in Paris. In 2012, Ghodsee was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in Anthropology and Cultural Studies.
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