The Kitchen Maid That Will Rule the State: Domestic Service and the Russian Revolution

On 15 March, the Centre for Comparative History and Political Studies hosted a lecture by Alissa Klots entitled “The Kitchen Maid That Will Rule the State: Domestic Service and the Russian Revolution

Alissa Klots - Candidate of History, Ph.D. Candidate, Visiting Research Fellow, Assistant Professor at the Chair of Modern History, Perm State University

Alissa Klots presented the primary findings of her research project on domestic workers in the first decades of the Soviet Union. By contrast to the traditional approach which studies the history of domestic maids in frames of social history, she conducts her research using methods of cultural history and analyzes the evolution of meanings which were created by different authors for deeper understanding of socialism as a lived ideology. Thus, domestic workers are perceived as a discursive arena where Soviet ideologists, labor unions’ activists, domestic servants and their employees were trying to figure out questions of gender and class.

According to Alissa Klots, analysis of the discussions on paid domestic labor and its impact on the everyday practices of domestic workerss and their employers gives an opportunity to see the important characteristic of the Soviet ideology - it empowered the Soviet people. Despite the fact that the Soviet domestic workers could hardly expect to participate in ruling the state, the Soviet government gave them the language which they could use to claim their right for a decent life.