Family and the State in Soviet Lithuania. Gender, Law and Society
CBEES Advanced Seminar with Dalia Leinarte, Professor of History at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas (Lithuania)
Speaker: Dalia Leinarte, Professor of History, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas (Lithuania)
Discussants: Helena Bergman, Associate Professor and Historian, School of History and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University, and Yulia Gradskova, Associate Professor in History, Senior Researcher, Department of Gender Studies, Södertörn University and Research Leader, CBEES
Chair: Julia Malitska, PhD, Project Researcher, School of History and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University
Abstract: Based on interviews and an array of archival sources, my book analyzes how family policy formed the everyday life of men and women and uncovers how the internalisation of Soviet propaganda took place in the private sphere. Family and the State in Soviet Lithuania is the first book to explore family policy in the Soviet Baltic states and is therefore a resource for scholars of Soviet and gender history.
In the book I challenge widely accepted notion about 'dissident kitchen' and an idea that the home was a site of silent resistance where traditional Lithuanian values continued to be nurtured and anti-Soviet views took place. Instead, my book raises several major questions, among others: If the home remained a safe haven for families during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, why is it that memories about private lives in Soviet Lithuania are so fragmented?
In its chapters (Soviet Family Policy; Marriage and Divorce; Parents and Children; Household) the book reveals how the totalitarian state was gradually abolishing the private lives of Lithuanian families. I argue that because of the universal, full-time participation in the workforce of women and men, after-school activities for children, as well as the state and Communist Party intrusion into everyday life, ultimately the family could not remain isolated from the regime. The ideology was inescapable and deeply permeated the very foundations of family life.
Dalia Leinarte is the author of award-winning book The Lithuanian Family in its European Context, 1800-1914: Marriage, Divorce and Flexible Communities. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017 (AABS 2018 Book Prize, honorable mention), and Adopting and Remembering Soviet Reality: Life Stories of Lithuanian Women, 1945–1970. Brill, 2010.