ASEEES Panels/Papers of Interest to ChEEER Members (2022)

ChEEER Annual Meeting

Childhood in Eastern Europe and Russia (ChEEER)

Thu, October 13, 5:00 to 6:45pm CDT (5:00 to 6:45pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR10

ASEEES 2022 Panels on children, childhood, & youth

Transnational Encounters: Interactions of Soviet and Foreign Youth during the Cold War

Thu, October 13, 2:45 to 4:30pm CDT (2:45 to 4:30pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR8

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

This panel explores actual and imaginary transnational connections that occurred between foreign and Soviet youth in the USSR from the 1960s to the 1980s. Through examining diverse encounters, the panel addresses the themes of Soviet cultural diplomacy and international solidarities, as well as propaganda, racism, Third Worldism, the cosmopolitan imagination, and transnational movements for peace.

Psy-Sciences and Juvenile Deviance in Russia and Central Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Fri, October 14, 12:30 to 2:15pm CDT (12:30 to 2:15pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR13

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

The papers address the development of psy-sciences in (Central) Eastern Europe in the late 19th and 20th century with a particular focus on juvenile deviance, care politics and psychotherapy. We ask how state and science experts framed and problematized ‘abnormal behavior’ of children and youngsters and how institutions of care and therapy worked.
We are presenting examples from three societies in different time periods, Imperial Russia/Early Soviet Union, postwar socialist Czechoslovakia and late-socialist Hungary.

Book Discussion: “Mothers, Families or Children? Family Policy in Poland, Hungary, and Romania, 1945-2020,” by Tomasz Inglot, Dorottya Szikra, and Cristina Rat:

Thu, November 10, 3:15 to 5:00pm CST (3:15 to 5:00pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 3rd Floor, The Madison Room

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Brief Description

This will be a roundtable – book discussion panel, including the main author of the book as the organizer/discussant, a chair-discussant, and three additional discussants, a total of five persons. The book and the panel will be interdisciplinary- involving the disciplines of political science, history, sociology and also gender studies.

The book examines and compares the historical development and contemporary politics of family policy in three countries of Central and Eastern Europe – Poland, Hungary and Romania. It uses a new historical-comparative framework of analysis to trace the origins and transformation of mother, family and child-oriented policy ideas and institutions with a focus on the core versus contigent benefits and services and the main actors behind them in this significant area of the welfare state.

Socialism or Barbarism IV: From Growing Up Red to the Study of Socialism

Fri, November 11, 2:00 to 3:45pm CST (2:00 to 3:45pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 3rd Floor, Salon 7

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Brief Description

How does the experience of growing up in a family with parents committed to the communist cause shape the research of scholars writing about Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union? This Roundtable panel brings together four veteran scholars of Eastern Europe from such a background. Our panelists, all with careers in American universities, come from a diverse background: two who grew up in Romania and Poland, respectively, with parents associated with the ruling communist party, two from the United States with parents affiliated with the Communist Party USA. We seek to explore how these experiences have affected the work of these scholars. To what extent has it determined the topics they have studied? How have they used those experiences in their scholarship? How have their emotional attachments shaped the conclusions reached in their scholarship? How does their background distinguish their work from colleagues without such family experiences? To what extent have they brought their family experiences (and which ones) into their teaching? Finally, how would they compare the impact of their experiences on their scholarship with the impact Stalinism had on earlier generations of scholars? Many top ASEEES scholars during the 1960s and 1970s had their own connections to communist practice, having emigrated from the region once communist parties came to power. But we know little about how the experiences of growing up with communist parents in post-Stalinist times has affected contemporary scholars of the region. This panel contributes to the sociology of knowledge of ASEEES.

**New Scholarship on Contemporary Russian Literature and Culture for Children and Teens**

Fri, November 11, 4:15 to 6:00pm CST (4:15 to 6:00pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, Burnham 4

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

*Affiliate Organization: Childhood in Eastern Europe and Russia (ChEEER)

Brief Description

The roundtable will address tendencies and trends in the development of contemporary Russian children’s and teen literature and culture as reflected in recent scholarship, including in Jenny Kaminer’s Haunted Dreams: Fantasies of Adolescence in Post-Soviet Culture (Cornell University Press/Northern Illinois University Press, 2022), and Andrea Lanoux, Kelly Herold, and Olga Bukhina’s Growing Out of Communism: Russian Literature for Children and Teens, 1991–2017 (Brill-Schöningh, 2022). We will discuss new themes, heroes, and voices represented in contemporary children’s books, TV-series, and movies published and produced in post-Soviet Russia and their significance for the development of children’s culture. We will also focus on how these new works are both connected to and disconnected from the Soviet past, and how contemporary teens are able to promote their own voices and influence others—including authors and producers of contemporary children’s literature—through social media, blogs, and youth-judged book competitions. Finally, roundtable participants will discuss the themes of violence, temporality, gender, and the body in cultural representations of adolescence in contemporary Russia.

Policing in Interwar Soviet Ukraine: Youth, Ethnicity, and Politics (1920-1941)

Sat, November 12, 8:00 to 9:45am CST (8:00 to 9:45am CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, Clark 5

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

This panel explores Soviet political policing in Ukraine in the 1920s to 1941. These papers contribute to an understanding of political priorities and the impact of policing by focusing separately on crime among youth in Odesa, persecution of Germans and Jews in southern Ukraine, and a fabricated case against former oppositionists in Kiev and Kharkov.

Pupils into Czechs, Slovenes, Germans, …: Habsburg Schools, Categorization, and National Identifications

Sat, November 12, 8:00 to 9:45am CST (8:00 to 9:45am CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 3rd Floor, Salon 1

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

Universal compulsory elementary education makes nations, they cannot exist without schools. However, while schools can deliberately propagate a certain national or transnational identification, their very structure and daily operation can help create and reproduce a different one. At the level of ideology, schools can propagate a non-national imperial patriotism, while they can be producing particularistic national identifications by grouping pupils according to ethnolinguistic categories and/or by employing such categories in textbooks and teaching. Habsburg schools provide a good example of the latter. While they—on purpose and quite successfully—promoted imperial patriotism, the largely unintended role they played in promoting national identifications is hard to overlook. The panel will examine how the emergence and the continued existence of Habsburg nations as viable modes of group building are related to the presence and employment of various national categorizations in schools. The papers will examine these categorizations, their history, the situations in which they were used, and their effects on pupils’ identifications, as well as how and when national identifications were intertwined with regional and imperial patriotism.

Mothers and Children in State-socialist East-Central Europe: An Expert View

Sat, November 12, 12:30 to 2:15pm CST (12:30 to 2:15pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 3rd Floor, The Logan Room

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

Mothers and children reproduce society in both physical and symbolic sense. Yet, it is often women as (future) mothers and (their) children who find themselves in precarious situations. Our panel will analyze state-socialist medical, pedagogical and psychological expertise, which studied women as bearers of healthy pregnancy and tried to identify and eliminate risk factors endangering gestation; researched newborns with the aim to increase the chances of survival for pre-term babies and thus decreasing infant mortality rates; zoomed in on the future healthy development of children as experts sought to identify and foster the “normal” child while classifying and trying to rectify “the “defective” one.
Our panel is rigorously comparative: all four papers will bring analyses from four East-Central European countries – East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia – over the four decades of state socialism. We will analyze scholarly journals and other expert documents, including transnational sources, e.g. from the World Health Organization. The aim of this panel is to explain similarities and differences between the countries while addressing the role of gender, class and ethnicity in the shaping of expert discourses. Doing so, we will analyze expertise as central to the modernization project of state socialism.

Individual Papers on children or childhood (panel info included)

The Risk of Witnessing: Soviet Childhood in the Gulag between Memory Practices and Knowledge Production – Liudmila Cojocaru, Moldova State U/National Museum of History

Thu, October 13, 8:00 to 9:45am CDT (8:00 to 9:45am CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR8


The memories of children who survived the repressions of Soviet administration in the Moldavian SSR (1940-1941 and 1944-1991) constitute the last “live archives” possible to elucidate the phenomena of totalitarianism and its long-term consequences from the perspective of “the little enemies” of the USSR. Silence and self-censorship, however, were imposed and became strategies adopted to survive for children who were deported (and sometimes also excised) from the families of “enemies of the people” and “traitors of the Motherland”. The risk of assuming the status of witness, over decades of the Soviet silence regime, by the children who grew up in the Gulag will be explored through the feelings of uncertainty, fear of repression, and the precarity/vulnerability of social status revealed in their oral history narratives.

‘I Continue through a Kind of Inertia’: Kira Muratova’s Prophetic Ukrainian Arc – Sandra Joy Russell, Mount Holyoke College

Thu, October 13, 2:45 to 4:30pm CDT (2:45 to 4:30pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR6


This paper focuses on Muratova’s last Soviet film, The Asthenic Syndrome (1990), which includes her “apocalyptic” rendering of Sovietism, and her penultimate film, Melody for a Street-Organ (2009), which follows two young siblings traveling from Kyiv to Moscow searching for their father after their mother’s death. I suggest that these features articulate a recognition of the legacies of authoritarian domination—inheritances that have been especially pronounced in Ukraine: in The Asthenic Syndrome, through the madness and precarity of late Soviet society; and in Melody for a Street Organ, foregrounding the despair of psychosocial dysfunction, greed, and corruption by juxtaposing them with children’s unmet needs. Muratova thus exposes the continuity of imperial and colonial violence, all the more prescient in light of Ukraine’s continued struggle against authoritarianism.

Late-Soviet Animation and the Image of England – Elena Goodwin

Thu, October 13, 5:00 to 6:45pm CDT (5:00 to 6:45pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR7


The paper will examine Kentervil’skoe prividenie [The Canterville Ghost] created by Valentina and Zinaida Brumberg, released by Soyuzmultfilm in 1970, which is an adaptation of a humorous fantasy short story by Oscar Wilde; Yurii Trofimov’s series of short animated films Skazki Donal’da Bisseta [Donald Bisset’s fairy tales] adapted from Donald Bisset’s fantasy children’s stories, released by Studio Ekran in 1983 – 1987; and Tat’iana Mititello’s Dozhdlivaia istoriia [A rainy day story], inspired by Joan Aiken’s fantasy children’s stories, released by Soyuzmultfilm in 1988.

Intersemiotic adaptation – as meaning transfer from text to animation – will be used as a point of departure for the analysis of the interaction between Soviet translations of English-language stories written for children and animated films. It will be demonstrated that visual images of England were blurred and combined with Russian realia, thus being accommodated within the context of the receiving culture. This way it was easier for the Soviet children to imagine an unknown culture by making associations with their native land and the way of life they knew so well. Moreover, some motifs of English culture were transformed into the allegorical narrative, overtly criticizing people’s behavior in Soviet society.

Being Taken Care of by Majority Society: Czech Narratives of Romani Children in Adoptive Families and Child Care Institutions – Gesine Drews-Sylla, U of Würzburg (Germany)

Fri, October 14, 10:15am to 12:00pm CDT (10:15am to 12:00pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR15


In Czech language literature and film, narratives about Romani children that were either institutionalized or taken care of by Czech adoptive families have become a topic from the mid-1980s on. The range of narratives is wide, they reach from a psychiatrist’s fictionalized account of his work in a juvenile detention center during late socialism over the autobiographic account of a Czech adoptive mother to fictional novels and films on differing fates of Romani characters. The paper aims to show how these narratives written and produced within the majority society conceive of the relationship between these children and the majority society, how they deal with issues of racism, and and how their focus changes over time. While the late socialist narrative celebrates the successful overcoming of perceptions of discrimination and stylizes the fight against racism as a resource for non-Romani characters, later narratives focus onto descriptions of institutionalized racisms and emotional deprivation, or, lately, onto explorations of Romani history and identity. One of the main issues to discuss within the array of questions is how these narratives position themselves towards their Romani characters

‘Such an Exercise… Shapes Both the Heart and the Mind’: Children’s Letter-Writing in Early Nineteenth-Century Russia as Moral Education – Ekaterina Shubenkina, U of Southern California

Fri, October 14, 10:15am to 12:00pm CDT (10:15am to 12:00pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR3


While several scholars have noted how letter-writing and journaling were linked to the process of self-observation and self-improvement in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russia, they tend to overlook children’s epistolary culture. In this paper I will address the problem by analyzing a letter-writing manual aimed at young boys and girls—Obshchepoleznyi detskii pis’movnik (Universally Beneficial Letter-Writing Manual for Children) (1825). Using this manual as an example, I will demonstrate (1) how exactly the process of writing a letter was identified with the process of moral development, or more specifically how the norms of writing became associated with the norms of moral behavior; and (2) how the fictional correspondence between children served didactic purposes by involving young readers of the manual in the process.

Remembering Public Shaming in Late Soviet School Education – Svetlana Stephenson, London Metropolitan U (UK), Elena R. Iarskaia-Smirnova, NRU Higher School of Economics (Russia)

Fri, October 14, 10:15am to 12:00pm CDT (10:15am to 12:00pm CDT), ASEEES 2022 Virtual Convention, VR4


The paper analyses memories of public shaming in school education in the late Soviet Union. Soviet schools and young pioneer camps applied public shame sanctions to problematic behaviours among children and young people. The paper analyses the common dramatic scripts used to arouse collective moral indignation with the transgressive act and the whole character of the perpetrator. On the basis of oral history interviews with people who were the targets of shaming, witnesses or active denouncers, the paper explores the range of motives and moral emotions involved in shaming, and discusses how the individual narratives reflect on and re-evaluate the Soviet system of moral control.

Stolen Girls and Underground Soldiers: The Holocaust and the Second World War in Diasporic Children’s Historical Fiction – Mateusz Swietlicki, U of Wroclaw (Poland)

Thu, November 10, 1:00 to 2:45pm CST (1:00 to 2:45pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, Clark 9


Agreeing with Hamida Bosmajian, who has argued that children’s literature always reflects “the prevailing social climate,” in this presentation, I want to focus on the multi-layered representations of the Shoah and the Second World War with its Ukrainian actors in novels written by North American diasporic authors of children’s historical fiction (xiv). Analyzing seven books, I will argue that they go beyond the role of the Holocaust and the Second World War remembrance tools because familiarizing children with the past war experiences can help them identify the threats of the globally rising nationalism, anti-Semitism, and the complex socio-political situation in present-day Eastern Europe. In my considerations, I will apply a transcultural and cross-sectional perspective as I agree with Michel Rothberg that “separating [the Holocaust] off from other histories of collective violence […] is intellectually and politically dangerous” because “it potentially creates a hierarchy of suffering (which is morally offensive) and removes that suffering from the field of historical agency (which is both morally and intellectually suspect)” (Rothberg 9). First, I will examine the role of the Holocaust in the Ukrainian diasporic mnemonic discourse since the mid-twentieth century. Then I will discuss the depiction of the DPs and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the war crimes allegations against Ukrainians in the novels. Finally, I will investigate the portrayal of the complex Jewish-Ukrainian relations, concentrating my attention on the entanglements of the rescuing of Jews and the underground operations of the UPA.

‘We did not Have a Childhood’: Jewish Children-Holocaust Survivors’ Memories – Victoria M. Khiterer, Millersville U

Thu, November 10, 3:15 to 5:00pm CST (3:15 to 5:00pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, LaSalle 1


Interviews of Kievan Jewish-Children Holocaust survivors, memoirs and archival materials have brought new light on the difficulties encountered by Jewish children and their families during their life in evacuation and after their return home. In addition to the difficulties faced by all other evacuees (severe shortage of food, horrible living conditions and epidemic diseases) Jewish children also often experienced anti-Semitism in evacuation and after their return home.

Encountering Precariousness: Postwar Yugoslav Socialist Publishing for Minors and Childhood Conceptions – Katja Kobolt, Scientific Research Centre SAZU (Slovenia)

Thu, November 10, 3:15 to 5:00pm CST (3:15 to 5:00pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, LaSalle 2


Drawing on a larger study of Yugoslav socialist publishing for minors, my paper focuses on production in the early post-WWII years. In the ossified post-socialist cultural memory (and partly in research as well), this period is predominantly treated as a time of an all-encompassing impenetrable ideological political disposition or totalitarianism (cf. Erdei, 2004; Černe Oven, 2017). Operationalizing the concept of precarity with its semantic quality opposite to totalitarianism – precarity as an insecure existential state in contrast to total subordination to an authority (in the historical sense, especially state power) – helps in portraying the complex picture of the revolutionary historical experience in socialist Yugoslavia, overshadowed not only by the passage of time but also by the profound systemic, social, economic, and thus epistemic and affective changes. In the socially, economically, and institutionally devastated/in-becoming revolutionary post-WWII situation, how did the publishing sector for minors (re)establish itself? In addition to providing insight into the materiality of postwar production, my paper also asks how the emerging publishing sector for minors dealt with the precarious postwar situation of a generation of children who during WWII experienced persecution and violence, orphanage and flight, famine, armed resistance, the victory of the PLA, and the everyday realities of the postwar period?

Vera Smirnova’s ‘Devohki’ and ‘Dva Serdtsa’: Soviet Womanhood in the 1930s Children’s Literature – Polina Popova, U of Illinois at Chicago

Thu, November 10, 3:15 to 5:00pm CST (3:15 to 5:00pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 3rd Floor, Salon 4


My paper will trace the literary career of the Soviet children’s writer Vera Smirnova – specifically, it will focus on Smirnova’s representation of the 1920s and 1930s Soviet gender norms. This study will focus on two works of Smirnova – Devochki (“The Girls”) that was penned in the 1920s, as well as her 1930 Dva serdtsa (“Two hearts”). The latter is especially important as it was the first Soviet book that introduced the topic of pregnancy, fetus development, and childbirth to Soviet children of the time. The choice of topic was very timely: by the early 1930s, with the introduction of the First Five-Year Plan, Stalin started to push a much more conservative political and cultural agenda, and later, in 1936, the new Soviet Constitution introduced a more “traditional” (i.e. patriarchal) vision of the Soviet state; while the legislative act “On the protection of Motherhood and Childhood” from that same year criminalized abortions (which had previously been decriminalized by the Bolsheviks). Smirnova, with her political flair and talented intellectual sensitivity, started to adjust her writing style to the new realities of the Cultural revolution epoch much earlier than many of her colleagues-writers. Dva serdtsa has new, completely different stylistics. Rhetorically and aesthetically it is much closer to the socialist realist genre that, at the time, just was just starting to develop in Soviet literature. The paper will compare and contrast the two works – The Girls and Two Hearts – and derive conclusions about the state of early Soviet sex education and how it changed under Stalin.

Humanitarianism or Solidarity?: Aiding Greek Refugee Children in the Early German Democratic Republic – Julia Therese Reinke, Masaryk Institute and Archives CAS (Czech Rep)

Thu, November 10, 3:15 to 5:00pm CST (3:15 to 5:00pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, Sandburg 6


Even before the socialist German state officially came into existence, some 340 children of Greek communists who had fought as partisans in the Greek Civil War arrived to the East German land of Saxony in August 1949, followed by another transport with about 800 children and teenagers in July 1950. As part of a coordinated action of the emerging ‘Eastern Bloc’, this refugee reception constituted a humanitarian act initiated and driven by the leading Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). However, only recently after National Socialism as well as concurrently confronted with the plight of co-ethnic refugees and expellees in the wake of the Second World War, this was far from a task put into practice easily.
While often framed and taken for granted as ‘solidarity between comrades’, the proposed paper aims to go beyond a top-down approach to the history of state socialism. How can the reception of the refugee children be located within the political solidarity, and what other factors can be observed in the implementation of this humanitarian endeavor on the ground? Taking the analysis to the local level by focusing among others on the especially relevant “Relief Committee” and its fundraising campaign, considerations and complications reveal a more nuanced picture of this socialist humanitarian project.

The Novel-Document: Anatolii Kuznetsov’s Doubled Witness to the Holocaust in Kyiv – Spencer Small, Yale U.

Fri, November 11, 8:00 to 9:45am CST (8:00 to 9:45am CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, LaSalle 5


In his 1966 work, Babii Iar, Anatolii Kuznetsov embeds his semi-autobiographical account of the Nazi occupation of Kyiv within the epistemological framework of what he calls a “novel-document”. That is to say, while frequently claiming an absolute truth, the novel implicitly acknowledges the fallibility of memory, which comes into tension with the ideal of documentary objectivity. To navigate the historical and ethical problems posed by this epistemology, Kuznetsov constructs a doubled witness, comprised of two distinct first-person narrators: that of his narrativized childhood memory of the Nazi occupation of Kyiv, and that of the contemporary implied author motivated by the ethical imperative to remember, even if the memories are not one’s own. My paper will argue that Kuznetsov brings first-person wartime writing into an explicitly ethical sphere and complicates the literary modes of “novel” and “document” by overlaying his witness narrative with the narrative of his own ethical imperative to tell the story of Babii Iar, which he accomplishes through extra-diegetic digressions and the highlighting of purported interventions by Soviet censorship.

The Hero and The (A)gendered Reward: Social and Beliefs ‘Othering’ of Children in Ukrainian Folk Wonder Tales – Alina Oprelianska, U of Tartu (Estonia)

Fri, November 11, 2:00 to 3:45pm CST (2:00 to 3:45pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, Clark 9


Intersexual communication that implements a mate as a reward is an essential part of folk wonder tales. However, there are tales that do not end with marriage and are therefore considered children’s tales. Apart from social segregation, folk narratives encompass beliefs as a part of gender construction, as well as ‘othering’ the gender. Child-heroes and heroines up to seven years old in social terms were before and beyond job segregation and gender recognition, and were surrounded by various beliefs about being soulless, having double-soul, being endowed with supernatural or extraordinary power. The paper aims to describe the existed social norms and beliefs about children in Ukrainian folklore of the 19th and the beginning of 20th century and define the meaning of (a)gendered rewards for the wonder tale plot.

Segregation in ‘Corrections Class’ (2014) and ‘The Tribe’ (2014) – Olga Seliazniova, Florida State U.

Sat, November 12, 12:30 to 2:15pm CST (12:30 to 2:15pm CST), The Palmer House Hilton, Floor: 7th Floor, Clark 10


“Corrections Class” (Russia) and “The Tribe” (Ukraine) were both released in 2014. Focusing on the lives of children with disabilities, these two films have a very similar premise: an outsider joins a new tight-knit community, tries to integrate into it, but ultimately fails. In addition to the resemblance of the plot, both films feature copious scenes of violence, graphic scenes of rape, and open-endedness. What sets apart these two films is the eventual exit of the protagonists from these communities. In my paper I will investigate the intersections of private and public spaces and look at the ways the protagonist “fix” their communities.