From Sweden with love: circulation and interpretation of Ellen Key’s ideas about sexuality, love, motherhood, and education in the late Russian Empire and the early Soviet Union (1890-1930)


The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Project type



The aim of the project is to study the circulation, reception, and reshaping of ideas of the Swedish intellectual Ellen Key (1849 – 1926) in the late Russian Empire and the early period of the USSR (1890-1930) and to trace the influence of her thoughts on the formation of the ideas about love, sexuality, motherhood, and education in new contexts. The study will shed light on how ideas and knowledge produced in Sweden were transformed and used after crossing the boundaries of nations, states, and intellectual traditions when they started circulating in Russia. A broader aim of the project is to contribute with new knowledge to the discussion on how European feminist thinkers from the late 19-early 20th century influenced the intellectual landscape of Europe and how their ideas were received and adapted to different contexts and by different movements that transformed the history of the 20th century.

The project’s theoretical point of departure is collective action theory and reception theory that underscore the importance of collectivity and organised actions for dissemination and circulation of certain ideas. Special focus is on interpretative communities as main actors in dissemination and interpretation of Key’s ideas. Theoretically, the study will contribute to the discussion on how forms, and norms of knowledge co-exist in various materialities, contexts, and regulatory practices, shedding light on the role of publishing, circulation and communication of knowledge in the transformation of societies.

Projekt information

Research area / geographic area

Historical and Contemporary Studies History Historical Studies History Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe Eastern Europe

Contract ID

dnr: 22-PR2-0013

Project time

2023 — 2026


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