École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris
E-Mail: peter.hallama [at] ehess.fr
Socialist Fatherhood. Revolutionary Visions of the Future Family and Everyday Life in 20th-century Europe
Fathers matter, also for socialists. Indeed, since the 19th century, socialists have been attacking the traditional position of the pater familias. Through his power to bequeath the family's property, he symbolised at the same time capitalism and patriarchy. Since both were to overcome in the future communist society, how was the father in utopia characterized? What did fatherhood mean for socialists and what did the ideal of equality mean for fathers?
Gender Studies on Eastern Europe have overlooked almost entirely the issue of masculinity. In focusing on the role of the father, I propose an innovative perspective on Eastern European socialism. I challenge the idea that socialists "ignored" masculinity and that the making of "new" women did not have any impact on the constructions of fatherhood. Therefore, the project aims to retrace the theoretical conceptions and the everyday constructions of a socialist fatherhood in the 20th century. I take into consideration transnational evolutions – particularly the revolutionary experiences in the early Soviet Union –, but will, for the empirical part of the study, concentrate on case studies from Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia.
The project offers a new insight in the relation between socialist modernity and tradition. Its potential impact lies in the fact that – in making approaches from the Men's Studies productive for historiography – it will provide a truly relational and dynamic gender history of 20th-century socialism.