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Journal of Women's History 11.1 (1999) 229-231
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Abstracts of Books
Victoria E. Bonnell. Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters under Lenin and Stalin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. xxii + 363 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-520-08712-7 (cl).
Bonnell skillfully employs work and theory of numerous disciplines--including sociology, history, art history, and literary criticism--to describe and decipher "invented traditions" in visual propaganda of the Soviet state from its inception through the late Stalin period. Using over five thousand posters, Bonnell composes thought-provoking discussions of the visual texts relying on comparisons to the European experience as well as references to classical tradition, religious imagery, and Russian traditional folklore and iconography. Set off by beautiful illustrations and strong historical context, this is an invaluable book for anyone interested in modern state attempts to control and infiuence their populations through propaganda, the response and shaping of these attempts by the people and their culture, and, especially, the under-investigated context of Russian posters. The well-rounded, gendered interpretations of these images will provoke discussions in upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses.
Avtar Brah. Cartographies of the Diaspora: Contesting Identities. New York: Routledge, 1996. xi + 276 pp. ISBN 0-415-12125-6 (cl); 0-415-12126-4 (pb).
Brah suggests that the idea of "diaspora" be used to frame current theoretical debates about race and gender. Grounding her ideas in empirical studies of South Asians in Britain, she tries to give credence to commonalities of experience among various social groups while respecting the endless differences generated by individual experience. She rejects binary constructions of race by raising issues of caste, religion, ethnicity, and age. Despite forces that fragment social categories, however, unified political subjects can be constructed, as she illustrates with her examination of "black" political organizing in Britain (which embraced African-Caribbean and South Asian people) in the 1960s and 1970s.
Mary Buckley, ed. Post-Soviet Women: From the Baltic to Central Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. xvii + 316 pp.; ill.; maps. ISBN 0-521-56320-8 (cl).
The fifteen essays in this volume survey women's position in post-Soviet states of the former USSR. The work is divided into two parts: women in the Russian Federation and women outside Russia in newly independent states. In part 1, contributors examine the impact of economic change on rural women, women and entrepreneurship, perceptions of Russian womanhood, domestic violence, and women's groups. In part 2, they explore the political and social lives of Latvian and Lithuanian women, Ukrainian women's agency, the redefinition of gender responsibilities in Armenia, a women's peace train in Georgia, and the dilemma facing Central Asian women who, in their struggle to create post-Soviet identities for themselves, strive to balance modern Soviet life with reemerging Turkic tradition. There are no essays about Moldavia, Belorussia, Estonia, or Azerbaijan.
Jean Curthoys. Feminist Amnesia: The Wake of Women's Liberation. New York: Routledge, 1997. xii + 200 pp. ISBN 0-19-511242-3 (cl); 0-415-14807-3 (pb).
This work provocatively examines the disjuncture between contemporary radical thought and the conservative institutional environment in which it must be practiced and taught. Curthoys analyzes the evolution of academic feminism as a case in which this disjuncture has been detrimental to the values that originally provided the underpinning to the radical feminist thought. She draws on the almost abandoned women's liberation movement to illustrate the ways in which radical feminist thought has had to disassociate itself from the very movement and morale that gave it its original and continuing broad-based support, in order to secure a position and some degree of power within the institutional confines of universities.
Julio César Pino. Family and Favela: The Reproduction of Poverty in Rio de Janeiro. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. x + 199 pp.; maps; tables. ISBN 0-313-30362-2 (cl).
This work explores how social inequality is reproduced in Brazil by focusing on three favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro. The author details changes in household structure...