Abstract

The author argues that for the first time the Russian history of motherhood was problematized by American researchers. The formation of motherhood studies took place in two directions gender history and family history. The first work on the anthropology of motherhood in Russia appeared in foreign historiography in the 1970s. D. Rensel initiated a conference on the history of the family in Russia, which aroused scientific interest of foreign historians to the problem of motherhood in Russia’s past. The greatest surge of American Russian studies towards the problem of motherhood was observed in the 1980s. The researchers focused both on the mothers of the lower classes (workers, peasant collective farmers) and on the aristocratic environment (noblewoman), not avoiding taboo topics for national historiography — abortion, infanticide, domestic violence. Scholars emphasized the ambivalent attitude of society to maternal roles. Since the 1990s, due to the availability of sources of “oral history”, the interest of researches focused on the study of the Soviet motherhood. Ethnography and sociology defined the methods, dominated by oral interviews, field studies and surveys. Motherhood was considered in the context of the history and sociology of the family and sexual relations. Russian studies of 2000-2010s neglected the area of motherhood studies. They turn to the history of women, rethink it, highlight the most important milestones, and integrate it into the general European history of women. Meanwhile the studies of motherhood in Russia appeared to be losing momentum gained since the 1970s. Foreign historians have developed the basic methods and approaches to the study of motherhood in the past. Their research activities are characterized by interdisciplinary and filigree work with female ego-documents. However, the author argues that studies of the pre-revolutionary maternity are not without significant shortcomings due to the scarcity of involvement in the scientific circulation of new empirical materials and excessive idealization of conclusions.

Keywords: motherhood, Russian studies, parenthood, gender, deprivation, sexual culture