Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program
Gender, Sexuality, And Womens Studies
Boody-Johnson House - 201
The history of women’s studies and its transformation into gender studies and feminist theory has always included a tension between creating “woman,” and political and theoretical challenges to that unity. Examines that tension in two dimensions: the development of critical perspectives on gender and power relations both within existing fields of knowledge, and within the continuous evolution of feminist discourse itself.
Seminar. Women's emancipation and sexual freedom were common themes among utopian socialists, anarchists, and other radical left communities in the United States and Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Sexual equality was also a bedrock principle of “scientific socialist” and communist societies throughout the twentieth century. Explores how a variety of communalist ideologies re-imagined the shape of the family and the gender relations between men and women. Examines the theoretical foundations and practical implications of sexual equality through a detailed history of a wide variety of ideological movements, including Owenism, anarchism, utopian socialism, scientific socialism, and “really-existing” socialism in the twentieth century. Special attention paid to the ongoing tensions between theory and practice.
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 2002
M.A. University of California, Berkeley, 1997
B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, 1993
Kristen Ghodsee earned her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and has been teaching at Bowdoin since 2002. Her research interests include the gendered effects of the economic transition from communism to capitalism and the ethnographic study of postcommunist nostalgia in Eastern Europe. Primarily focusing on the southeast European country of Bulgaria, Ghodsee has spent over fifteen years examining the impacts of the transition process on the lives of ordinary men and women. Her early ethnographic research focused on women’s labor in the postsocialist Bulgarian tourism industry and on the effects of political transition on Bulgaria’s Muslim minorities, particularly the Pomaks (or Slavic Muslims). Her later works have been heavily influenced by humanistic anthropology; Ghodsee has experimented with ethnographic fiction, autoethnography, and photoethnography to produce more intimate narratives and images of the disorienting impacts of the collapse of communism on daily life.
Kristen Ghodsee is the author of seven books and over two dozen articles, including The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea (Duke University Press, 2005) and Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton University Press 2010), which won the 2010 Barbara Heldt Book Prize, the 2011 John D. Bell Book Prize, the 2011 Harvard Davis Center Book Prize, and the 2011 William Douglass Prize for Best Book in Europeanist Anthropology. She is also the co-author of Professor Mommy: Finding Work/Family Balance in Academia(Rowman & Littlefield, 2011) and Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism (Duke University Press, 2011), which won the 2011 Ethnographic Fiction Prize from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology (for the short story “Tito Trivia”). Ghodsee is also the author of The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe (Duke University Press in 2015), which won the Honorable Mention for the 2015 Heldt Prize for the Best Book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Women's Studies from the Association of Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS), From Notes to Narrative: Writing Ethnographies that Everyone Can Read (University of Chicago Press, 2016), and the forthcoming collection of essays and stories, Red Hangover: Legacies of European Communism (expected in fall 2017).
Her research in Eastern Europe has been supported by: the National Science Foundation (NSF), Fulbright Foundation, the National Council on Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER), the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). Kristen Ghodsee has also won residential research fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.; the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany; the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
In 2012, Ghodsee was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for her work in anthropology and cultural studies. In 2014-2015, she was a senior external fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. In 2015-2016, she was a senior fellow at research institutes at the F. Schiller University in Jena (Germany) and at the University of Helsinki (Finland).
She is the current president of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) and the Association of Members of the Institute for Adavnced Study (AMIAS).
From Notes to Narrative: Writing Ethnographies that Everyone Can Read, forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press, 2016
The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0822358350
Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism, Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0822351023
Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0691139555
The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea, Durham: Duke University Press, 2005. ISBN 978-082233662
Rachel Connelly and Kristen Ghodsee, Professor Mommy: Finding Work/Family Balance in Academia, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011. ISBN 978-1442208582
“Socialist Wallpaper: Popular Education, Bitova Kultura and the Bulgarian Women’s Committee, 1968-1990 (with Miroslava Nikolova, former Bowdoin student), Social Politics, 22(3), Fall 2015: 319-340
"Internationalisme socialiste et féminisme d’État pendant la Guerre froide. Les relations entre Bulgarie et Zambie ", Clio. Femmes, genre, histoire, 41, Fall 2015, "Le 'socialisme réel' à l'épreuve du genre," sous la direction de Sandrine Kott et Françoise Thébaud: 115-137
“A Tale of Two Totalitarianisms: The Crisis of Capitalism and the Historical Memory of Communism,” History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History, 4(2), Fall 2014: 115-142
“Pressuring the Politburo: The Committee of the Bulgarian Women's Movement and State Socialist Feminism," Slavic Review, 73(3), Fall 2014: 538-562
"Research Note: The historiographical challenges of exploring Second World-Third World alliances in the international women's movement," Global Social Policy, 14(2), 2014: 244-264
“Rethinking State Socialist Mass Women’s Organizations The Committee of the Bulgarian Women’s Movement and the United Nations Decade for Women, 1975–1985,” Journal of Women’s History, (24)4, Winter 2012: 49-73.
“Decentering Agency in Feminist Theory: Social Democracy, Postsocialism, and the Re-engagement of the Social Good” with Amy Borovoy, Women’s Studies International Forum, 35 (2012): 153-165.
“Starting a Family at Your Parent’s House: Multigenerational Households and Below Replacement Fertility in Bulgaria” with Laura Bernardi, Journal of Comparative Family Studies. Special Issue 2012, 43(3); 439-459
“The Cold War Politicization of Literacy: UNESCO, Communism, and the World Bank,” with Charles Dorn, Diplomatic History, 36(2) 2011: 373-398 (Winner of the 2012 Best Article Prize from the History of Education Society)
“When Research becomes Intelligence: Feminist Anthropology, Ethnographic Fieldwork and the Human Terrain System,” Feminist Formations (formerly the National Women’s Studies Association Journal), 23(2), Summer 2011: 160-185
"Socialist Secularism: Gender, Religion and Modernity in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, 1946-1989” with Pam Ballinger, Aspasia: The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History, Vol. 5: 6-27
“Minarets after Marx: Islam, Communist Nostalgia and the Common Good in Post-socialist Bulgaria,” East European Politics and Societies, 24(4) 2010: 520-542.
“Revisiting the International Decade for Women: Brief Reflections on Competing Definitions of Feminism and Cold War Politics from the American Perspective,” Women’s Studies International Forum 33(1) 2010: 3-12.
“Left Wing, Right Wing, Everything: Xenophobia, Neo-totalitarianism and Populist Politics in Contemporary Bulgaria,” Problems of Post-Communism, 55(3) May-June 2008: 26-39.
“Religious Freedoms versus Gender Equality: Faith-Based Organizations, Muslim Minorities and Islamic Headscarves in Modern Bulgaria,” Social Politics, 14(4) 2007: 526-561.
“Potions, Lotions and Lipstick: The Gendered Consumption of Cosmetics and Perfumery in Socialist and Postsocialist Urban Bulgaria,” Women’s Studies International Forum, 30(1) January 2007: 26-39.
“Feminism-by-Design: Emerging Capitalisms, Cultural Feminism and Women’s Nongovernmental Organizations in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 29(3) Spring 2004: 727-753. [Modified and Reprinted as: “Civil Society-by-Design: Emerging Capitalisms, Western Feminism, and Women’s Nongovernmental Organizations in Postsocialist Eastern Europe” in Civil Society, Public Space and Gender Justice: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, eds. Gunilla Budde, Karen Hagemann, Sonya Michel in the series “European Civil Society” published by Berghan Publishers, Oxford and New York and edited by Dieter Gosewinkel and Jürgen Kocka, 2008; second edition in paperback in 2011. 2) Modified and Reprinted as: “Nongovernmental Ogres? How Feminist NGOs Undermine Women in Postsocialist Eastern Europe,” The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, (Vol. 8, No. 3), May 2006]
"Red Nostalgia? Communism, Women's Emancipation, and Economic Transformation in Bulgaria," L'Homme: Zeitschrift für Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft (Journal for Feminist History), Spring 2004 (Vol. 15, No. 1/2004). ( full text PDF » ) [Reprinted in: Women's Movements: Networks and Debates in Post-communist Countries in the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Elisabeth Frysak, Margareth Lanzinger and Edith Saurer, (L'Homme Schriften, Vol. 12), Boehlau Verlag, 2006]
"And if the Shoe Doesn't Fit? (Wear it Anyway?): Economic Transformation and Western Paradigm of 'Women in Development' in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe," Gender and Women's Studies Quarterly, Fall & Winter 2003 (Vol. 31, No. 3 & 4). ( full text PDF» )
"State Support in the Market: Women and Tourism Employment in Post-Socialist Bulgaria." International Journal of Politics, Cultural and Society, Spring 2003, (Vol. 16, No. 3).
Kristen Ghodsee's Open Scholar webpage
The Left Side of History Book Trailer
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship Page
Lost in Transition book trailer
Ghodsee reads from Lost in Transition
Ghodsee on the 2013 self-immolations in Bulgaria with Marco Werman on BBC/Public Radio International's The World
The Specter Still Haunts: Revisiting 1989, Dissent Magazine, 2012
The Fall of Communism in Bulgaria, with Lisa Mullins on BBC/Public Radio International's The World