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The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

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17 сентября 2015

Round Table "Girlhood Studies in Times of Changes". 17 September 2015


Round Table "Girlhood Studies in Times of Changes" took place on 17  September 2015, co-organised by The Gorbachev FoundationFaculty of Sociology: HSE University (Moscow) and Girlhood Studies An Interdisciplinary Journal 
The Round Table, which brought together researchers,  journalists, students , consisted of  three sessions  including the presentations , skype sessions, discussion .
Girls born between the late 1990s and the early 2000s in the countries of the former USSR and Eastern Europe are fast entering into a particular kind of social life. In contrast to previous generations of girls born and bred under communist regimes this post-socialist generation has access to the Internet, social networks, and global mass culture. They speak in a different voice, and they raise new issues and seek answers to them.
Today’s post-socialist societies, experiencing, as they do, an evident cultural and political conflict between traditionalists and modernists, are increasingly concerned about the ways in which girls move into womanhood; this sometimes falls into moral panic. Recently, public discourse has been increasingly supportive of the idea of the inviolability of so-called ideal (read: traditional) femininity. Staying away from the discussion of new models of femininity actively embraced by girls and young women, public opinion is reluctant to recognize their legitimacy. Thus, gaps between and among girls from different regional, ethnic, and class groups are increasing dramatically. The plurality of practices and images of girlhood should be taken into account in the new agenda of Girlhood Studies in Russia and other countries that have a socialist past and in which social inequality is rising given the ways in which double gender standards increasingly influence people’s choices and the realities of everyday life. For many girls inequality means that they must overcome multiple social and cultural barriers in their lives. However, until recently this issue has not been adequately reflected in academic debates in Russia.
Despite the fact that the discipline of gender studies in the post-socialist countries emerged in the early 1990s and has already become a multidisciplinary research area, Girlhood Studies has always been fragmented and dispersed in this area of investigation: girls are still very rarely seen by researchers as belonging to a separate and peculiar age and gender group.
We consider Girlhood Studies to be an innovative theoretical approach to, and a significant sphere of, international interdisciplinary dialogue on girlhood. The articles collected in the special issue GirlhoodStudiesinPost-SocialistTimes of the Girlhood Studies An Interdisciplinary Journal [1] represent a broad range of themes and approaches. 
As Claudia Mitchell argues presenting the themed issue GirlhoodStudiesinPost-SocialistTimes «This issue provides a reading on social change in post-socialist Russia through girlhood as a category of sex, gender, and age, but it also offers a fascinating basis for comparison with girlhoods elsewhere. Taken together the articles in this issue might be read as a socio-historical landmark, providing a baseline for future work in girlhood studies in Russia”[2].







Olga Zdravomyslova is a sociologist, Doctor of Philosophy, the Executive Director of the International Foundation for Socio-economic and Political Studies (The Gorbachev-Foundation),the Vice President of Raisa Gorbacheva Club, and is on the Editorial Board of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Her areas of interest include gender and girlhood studies, the legal socialization of youth, post-socialist transformation. She is coordinator of the international projects carried out by the Gorbachev Foundation, the author of numerous books and  articles. Currently worked as a guest co-editor of the thematic issue “Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times” of theGirlhood Studies An International Journal





Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova has received her first diploma in Mathematics in Saratov State University, Russia, MSc Social Work (University of Goteborg, Sweden), Candidate of Philosophy (Saratov State Chernishevski University), Dr. of Sociology (Saratov State Technical University, Russia), PhD in Social Work (University of Goteborg, Sweden), currently is a professor  at the Department of Sociology, National Research University ‘Higher School of Economics’, Moscow, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Social Policy Studies. Has previously worked as a professor and head of the department of social anthropology and social work in Saratov, advisor of an independent research organization Centre for Social Policy and Gender Studies. Is interested in gender and disability studies, visual studies, sociology of public sphere, qualitative research methods, sociology and social anthropology of professions. Current research interests are focused on professionalization of social work and inclusive education. Currently worked as a guest co-editor of the thematic issue of the journal Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times” of the Girlhood Studies An International Journal












Bodil Formark received her PhD in History from Umeå University in 2010 on a thesis that analysed the history of Swedish Girl Scouting 1910-1940. In her research as a postdoc she has been interested in questions regarding the relation between women’s memories of their girlhood and the historiography of women’s history. Another field of inquiry has been the construction of the Gender Equal Girl in the Swedish context. Formark is one of the founders of FlickForsk! Nordic Network for Girlhood Studies and serves as its coordinator since 2011. In 2013 Dr Formark served as Guest Editor, together with Professor Annelie Bränström Öhman, for the themed issue “Nordic Girls’ Studies: Current Themes and Theoretical Approaches” of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Dr. Formark currently works part time with developing FlickForsk! at Umeå Centre for Gender Studies, Umeå University.  FlickForsk! Nordic Network for Girlhood Studiesstarted in 2007. The word “FlickForsk” is an abbreviated fusion of the Swedish words for “girl” (flicka) and “research” (forskning). We are a network for researchers within primarily the humanities and social sciences who are doing work on girls, girls’ culture, girliness and girlhood. Since the start we have, both independently but often in close collaboration with the Finnish network, arranged a number of academic events, such as seminars, workshops and conferences at which researchers have been able to meet. Parallel with these events we have also initiated and completed a number of publication projects. To this date the two Nordic networks have published 3 books and 3 theme journal issues. One being; the theme issue  “Nordic Girls’ Studies: Current Themes and Theoretical Approaches” of Girlhood Studies.So how can this analytical preoccupation with girls and girlhood among a younger generation of Nordic scholars be understood? Are we not from countries/places that are often perceived as being very progressive and dubbed the “best/worst in the world” when it comes to gender equality and encouraging children to act beyond traditional gender roles? Well, in spite of this or perhaps precisely because of this image the founding members of both networks experienced a need to find ways to interact with other researchers working with section of human population which are categorized and/or represented as “girls”.

Bodil Formark’s  presentation  Nordic Girlhood Studies: Connections, Contrasts and Future Cooperation.

Power Point Presentation




Claudia Mitchell  is a James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Education, McGill University, Montreal, Canada and an Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. She is the co-founder and editor of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. She has published extensively in the area of girlhood studies including the following: Seven Going on Seventeen: Tween Studies in the Culture of Girlhood; Methodologies for Mapping a Southern African Girlhood in the Age of AIDS; Girl Culture: An Encyclopedia (2 volumes); and Girlhood: Redefining the limits. Her latest book on girlhood will be published early in 2016:  Girlhood and the politics of place: Contemporary paradigms for research. She  is currently co-leading a SSHRC-IDRC Partnership project, “Networks for change and well-being: Girl-led ‘from the ground up’ policy making to address sexual violence in indigenous communities in Canada and South Africa.” 



Ann Smith, formerly a lecturer in the Department of English, School of Literature and Language Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, where she taught for 22 years, she went on to teach Business Communication skills within a context of diversity management at the Wits Business School for the next 11 years. She is now an independent Educational Consultant and an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. She is the managing editor of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Her publications that specifically address girlhood include Methodologies for Mapping a Southern African Girlhood in the Age of Aids with R. Moletsane, C. Mitchell and L.Chisholm, and the chapter, “Take a Picture: Photographs, Gender, Dress, and Self-study” in her book, Was it Something I Wore? Gender, Dress, Materiality (with R Moletsane and C Mitchell) 


Olga Savinskaya, sociologist, Associate professor of the Department of Sociology of the Higher School of Economics (Moscow), a member of an expert inter-committee group of the Moscow-city Public Chamber. Her research interests are in the field of sociology of labor, family and children with focus on the work-family balance for parents with young children, as well as  pre-school education and pre-school childhood; the social policy and  the research methodology in social sciences. She has published the articles in the scientific journals and the chapters in the books concerning  above-mentioned subjects. Olga Savinskaya presented her research  Social Networks: Constructing and Manifestation of Girls’ Identity



Yana Zhilyaeva, feature editor, journalist, writer. For many years she covered the social problems such as gender inequality, kept up the running commentaries  about  the first hostel in Saint Petersbourg for the married women experiencing violence. She wrote also about the activity of the soldier’s mothers during the first Chechen war as well as the failure of the medical donor support system in the post-Soviet Russia. Investigated the phenomenon of the Russian tennis girls (interviewed Nick Bollettieri in Florida and reported from Nyagan, native land of Maria Sharapova). She is writing also about the new Russian theatre and  the contemporary Russian art.   Proficiency in perceiving special features, listening carefully to her interlocutors and representing truly the story. Yana Zhiliaeva presented her research Turgenev girl” in the era of total monetarism: the representations about social success







Olga Simonova, Associate Professor of Sociology Department of the Higher School of Economics  Research interests: sociological theory, sociology of emotions, sociology of culture, gender studies. Olga Simonova presented her research Gender-emotional stereotypes and gender identity formation of  girls: sociological aspects. On the basis of the sociology of emotions and results of socio-psychological research it can be concluded that gender-emotional stereotypes play an important role in the social construction of gender identity of girls in different age groups, from pre-school age. The problem lies in the fact that gender-emotional stereotypes blurred in modern societies or rather these stereotypes are diverse and there are much more such stereotypes than ever. And how is the girl socialization changing in terms of emotional expression now? If previously adults encouraged girls toward specific emotional behavior: to express the emotions that were associated with submission and vulnerability, more smiles, more tears, more emotions of guilt and shame, today perhaps the adults can encourage emotional behaviour, previously more typical for boys - to express emotions associated with dominance, anger, less smiles and tears, less shame and guilt? In addition, we need to understand in what age girls internalize the relevant stereotypes of emotion expression (this requires to outline socialization stages) and how it is related to the socio-structural variables - class status, cultural background, etc. 




Evgeniya Golman  is a lecturer at the Department of General sociology, School of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, National Research University “Higher School of Economics” (Moscow). She defended her Candidate of Sciences thesis on the problem of sociological approaches to female embodiment and bodily practices. She underwent training in the University of Kent, the UK, under supervision of professor Chris Shilling know for his contribution to sociology of the body. Evgeniya is an author of a series of publications on gender and bodily practices as well as two MA courses in English on the body politics. Her scientific interests are focused on qualitative research methods, visual sociology, gender studies, the body studies, evolution of social ideas of health and healthy lifestyle. Evgeniya Golman presented her research A retrospective look at the bodily socialization: the memories  of middle-class women 





Julia Gradskova,  Researcher, the Institute of Contemporary History , Stockholm University, Sweden " She presented her article Organizing Girls' Groups for a Better Future: Local and Global Challenges and Solutions  published in  the thematic issue “Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times” of the Girlhood Studies An International Journal: “The rapid political and social changes in Russia in the 1990s contributed to the circulation of many new ideas about what might count as the successful start of adulthood and also about gender norms for young people. My aim in this article is to explore the normativity of girlhood in contemporary Russia by focusing on the Nordic-Russian co-operation project that runs group workshops for girls and by looking, in particular, at a special program that was carried out in the Kaliningrad region. I show that in spite of the special and unique character of the project, the realization of the program in the Russian context partly recalls some other projects in which the general perception of heteronormativity, and the opposition of male/female as natural is left untouched”.




Elvira Arif,  Researcher, National Research University 'Higher School of Economics' (Saint Petersburg). She presented her articleFighting is Not Pretty": Interpreting the Experience of Self-Defense in Girls' Fights  published in  the thematic issue “Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times”of the Girlhood Studies An International Journal: “One of the issues of girls’ security in urban space is defense against physical assault. Some forms of self-defense by girls and young women are marginalized by gender discourse. I examine, in this article, the example of the use of physical force as a bodily resource in girls’ and young women’s fights as a normalization by participants of their experience. I analyze the narratives of young women through their conception of the image of the body. The research shows that the girls' experience does not contradict their femininity, but neither does it correspond to the image of the defenceless body.  Its reproduction contributes to the cementing of the concept of vulnerability in relation to girls’ positioning in urban space. Inevitably, then, the girl herself in urban space remains vulnerable.”



Nadia Nartova,  Researcher,National Research University 'Higher School of Economics' (Saint Petersburg). She presented her article Mapping Motherhood: Girls as Mothers in Contemporary Russia published in  the thematic issue “Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times” of the Girlhood Studies An International Journal: “In this article I analyze 30 biographical interviews with women who had given birth to a child before they turned 18. I discuss the discursive work that these girls do to develop their maternal practices as good and correct, and to normalize early motherhood in their biography in general. The informants see having a child as a line of discontinuity between their disadvantaged childhood and their self-reliant autonomous adulthood. At the same time, they define the idea of ​​good motherhood not only through the internalization of, and compliance with, the dominant cultural codes, but also by relying on the biographical experience they have had.”



Elena Omel’chenko,  Professor a the National Research University 'Higher School of Economics' (Saint Petersburg). She presented her article Between Us Girls: On Girls' Interpretations of Sexuaiity published in  the thematic issue “Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times” of theGirlhood Studies An International Journal: “In this article I deal with interpretations of sexuality that are typical of Russian girls who are learning to become blue-collar or pink-collar professionals:  for example. public health nurses, social workers, cultural sphere, tourism and hotel business, service profession - cooking, hairdressing, tailoring and fashion design    . The empirical base of this article is a set of in-depth semi-structured interviews with young males and females concerning their individual sexual experiences. I examine scenarios of feminine subjectivity within the context of discussing a first sexual experience. I look, too, at how girls exercise girl-power within the framework of communication and intimacy with a partner.”



Tania Bulakh,  Researcher.  Socio-Cultural Anthropology Indiana University, Bloomington. She presented her article The Construction of Girls' Femininity through the Ukrainian TV Show The Queen of the ball published in  the thematic issue “Girlhood Studies in Post-Socialist Times” of theGirlhood Studies An International Journal: “In this article, I analyze Koroleva Balu (The Queen of the Ball), a Ukrainian makeover TV show for schoolgirls that showcases girls’ competition for the title of Queen during the preparation for their high school prom. A crew of professional stylists assists the participants, creating their personal styles. My focus is on an analysis of the concepts of girls’ empowerment through feminine beauty and “femme-ing the normative.” I investigate how gender is constructed by the show as a performative act and how this process corresponds to post-socialist views of beauty and femininity”

Photo by Dmitry Belanovsky / The Gorbachev Foundation