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  • Public defence: 2018-01-26 10:00 MA 624, Huddinge
    Petrusenko, Nadezda
    Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, History. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS). Stockholms universitet, Historiska institutionen.
    Creating the Revolutionary Heroines: The Case of Female Terrorists of the PSR (Russia, Beginning of the 20th Century)2017Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Representing revolutionary terrorists as heroes and martyrs was a typical feature of the mythology of the Russian revolutionary underground at the beginning of the 20th century. This mythology described Underground Russia, the world of the revolutionaries, as an ideal country inhabited by ideal people. The purpose of that epos was to represent the revolutionary struggle, and individual revolutionaries in such a way that they would gain sympathy from the wider public and become role models for other revolutionary fighters. Sympathetic representations of women who committed political violence seem to be especially shocking in the context of Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, since female violent behavior contradicted the existing gender order.

    Employing theoretical perspectives of Critical Discourse Analysis, gender history and intersectionality, the dissertation analyzes the way narratives about the individual life paths of female terrorists of the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (the PSR), the biggest socialist party in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, were constructed in their revolutionary auto/biographies. It analyzes how the lives of women from different social and ethnic origins, of different ages, with different life paths, who happened to be united only by their participation in the political terrorism of the PSR, were recounted with the help of narratives used in the Russian revolutionary underground.

    The research findings demonstrate that the accounts of the lives of female PSR terrorists were constructed with the help of the dominant narrative that was formed as a conversion story. Within the framework of that narrative, the lives of individual women were adapted to the dominant discourse of heroism and martyrdom, and at the same time were contextualized within the dominant discourse on “good” femininity that existed in the Russian society, and even within the discourse on Jews as perpetual “Others” in the Russian empire in case of Jewish women. Social and ethnic backgrounds as well as individual circumstances of the terrorist women, however, transformed the dominant narrative, and thus created diversity of representations. The discursive practice of writing a revolutionary life accepted by Bolsheviks influenced the discursive practice employed in revolutionary auto/biographies of female terrorists written during the early Soviet period.