In This Article Russia

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Premodern Russia

Childhood Studies Russia
by
Andy Byford
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 November 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0030

Introduction

The multidisciplinary study of “childhood” as a distinct social, anthropological, and historical phenomenon is still in the early stages of development in Russia. Although such research is clearly on the rise, as yet no universally accepted Russian term for childhood studies as such exists. Some insight into current research activities in this field in Russia can be gleaned from the website of the research group specializing in the “culture of childhood” based at the Russian State University for the Humanitiesin Moscow. In the first decades of the 20th century, Russia/USSR had a strongly developed early form of multidisciplinary “child studies,” namely, the field of pedology (pedologiia), in which the lead was taken by child psychologists and theorists of education. This research was strongly supported by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s, but it was then eradicated on ideological grounds by Stalin in 1936. Pedology in Russia also included an interest in children as objects of social and anthropological study. An important strand within this field was the ethnography of childhood and a documentation of children’s folklore. These interests have seen some revival in recent years, too. However, over the past several decades, the remarkable expansion and diversification of the historiography of Russian/Soviet childhood, by both Western and Russian scholars, have been particularly significant. As a result, this bibliography is predominantly historiographic, although such a perspective is deeply intertwined with an anthropological and ethnographic exploration of Russian childhood. The bibliography is divided into two principal parts. The first part deals with the general historiography of childhood in Russia from the premodern era to the present; the second part focuses specifically on research devoted to children’s culture in a broad sense, including children’s folklore, literature, cinema, and the other arts. Both parts of the bibliography follow historical chronology, albeit in a loose way, given that their subsections are designed to emphasize key subareas of scholarly interest within this field.

General Overviews

It is worth comparing Ransel 1991 with Sal’nikova 2007 and Makarevich 2008 in order to get a sense of the considerable progress in historiography of Russian childhood over the past several decades. Kon 1988 is interesting as an early conceptual influence on some Russian historians of childhood, bringing together the historiographic and ethnographic perspectives as key axes of this emerging field.

  • Kon, I. S. Rebenok i obshchestvo: Istoriko-etnograficheskaia perspektiva. Moscow: Nauka, 1988.

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    One of the early works in contemporary multidisciplinary “childhood studies” in Russia, encompassing an alliance of ethnographic and historical approaches to childhood. The book does not, however, examine childhood in Russia itself; rather, it focuses on general problems of comparative historical anthropology of childhood, with examples mostly from archaic societies, especially in Asia and Africa.

  • Makarevich, G. V., ed. Kakoreia: Iz istorii detstva v Rossii i drugikh stranakh. Moscow: Nauchnaia kniga, 2008.

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    Multiauthored collection of articles on the history of childhood from the 18th century to the present, with the largest number of contributions on the 20th century. A very wide range of different topics and case studies are covered. The collection is prefaced by a general introduction to the historiography of Russian childhood by Catriona Kelly.

  • Ransel, David L. “Russia and the USSR.” In Children in Historical and Comparative Perspective: An International Handbook and Research Guide. Edited by Joseph M. Hawes and N. Ray Hiner, 471–489. New York: Greenwood, 1991.

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    Early overview of the historiography of Russian childhood up to 1990. It argues that little historical research had been done in this field until that point. It surveys the few, mostly psycho-historical, studies, with an emphasis on the tsarist era.

  • Sal’nikova, Alla A. Rossiiskoe detstvo v XX veke: Istoriia, teoriia i praktika issledovaniia. Kazan, Russia: Kazan State University, 2007.

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    In the opening section the author surveys “childhood studies” and especially the historiography of childhood in Russia, discussing the dominant approaches to it, with a focus on the 20th century. The book emphasizes the importance, and neglect, of sources in which children themselves speak about their childhoods and their understanding of the world.

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