Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Esuna Dugarova (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Switzerland)

Larisa Shpakovskaya (Higher School of Economics, Russia)

Anna Avdeeva (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Alisa Zhabenko (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Panel abstract: Cultural Forms of Motherhood in Contemporary Russia and Former Soviet Republics

The presented panel will be focused on specifics of parenting culture in Russia and former Soviet countries. The aim of this panel is to show the variety of possibilities for the development of parenting practices on Russian and former Soviet space.

Esuna Dugarova's paper is devoted to the analysis of parental support policies in Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. It argues that while such policies in these countries have mainly focused on support for mothers and children, they have generally been limited to financial assistance rather than other types of support such as childcare services and reconciliation of professional and parental responsibilities. In this context, parents have to rely on intergenerational support in caring for children, which is not always feasible. This situation has a negative impact on the institution of the family in these three cases. Although new programs were introduced in recent years in Russia and Kazakhstan to support motherhood, this is not sufficient to ensure decent livelihood for families and mothers in particular.

In the Russian context parenthood is semantically identified more with motherhood, which has resulted from the previous - Soviet gender policy and is inscribed within contemporary Russian gender culture.

Larisa Shpakovskaya (How to Be a Responsible Mother: the Case of Middle Class Mothering in Russia) presents the analysis of the motherhood as a specific practice of Russian middle class. On the basis of data received by interview method, she inquires the ways in which class is integral to the normative understandings of motherhood. Analyzing the concept of responsibility, she describes why and when Russian middle class mothers consider themselves as "responsible" and argue that a specific type of parenthood is an important domain of the class identity.

Anna Avdeeva (Natural Parenting as Radical Choice of Russian Mothers) discusses radical strategies of mothering in her paper devoted to the phenomenon of «natural parenting». At the first sight, in the context of the official turn to neo-traditionalism in Russia the implementation of natural parenting seems to be consenting to the prevailing public discourse on family and childcare. She claims that this rather new for the Russia parenting model fits well into the contemporary state rhetoric and public discourse on childcare and "traditional" gender roles/order. However, the intensity of mothers' participation in childcare, committing women (entirely or predominantly) into sphere of private and bracketing them out of the sphere of wage labor entailed by natural parenting are strange to "traditional" Russian gender order of "working mother".

Alisa Zhabenko (Choosing the Sperm Donor in Lesbian Couples in Russia) continues topic of radical mothers´ choices with analyzing the sperm donation in reproduction strategies in lesbian headed families in Russia. Lesbian family is illegal family form in contemporary Russia which is completely hidden in discussion about motherhood. Although, such families don not have any State support, one of the most desirable choices for lesbian families – to have children together legally. This wish almost always faces the problem of searching for a donor. In her paper Alisa is going to present peculiarities of Russian situation concerning reproductive choices of lesbian headed families and specific in communication lesbians with clinics and donors.