Journal Article

Building Socialism in the Countryside: The Impact of Collectivization on Yugoslav Gender Relations

Ivan Simić

in Journal of Social History

Volume 51, issue 4, pages 1023-1044
Published in print June 2018 | ISSN: 0022-4529
Published online March 2017 | e-ISSN: 1527-1897 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shx023
Building Socialism in the Countryside: The Impact of Collectivization on Yugoslav Gender Relations

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  • History of Gender and Sexuality
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Abstract

This article examines the extent to which collectivization changed gender relations in the Yugoslav countryside. I argue that gender played a significant role in the formulation and implementation of the Yugoslav collectivization process, as the Communist Party developed policies that targeted peasant women and existing gender relations. By imitating the Soviet model of kolkhoz and the positive image of kolkhoznitsa, the party aimed to use collectivization to emancipate peasant women and bring socialist modernity to the countryside. The article reveals a complex patronizing relationship within tremendous efforts to improve peasants’ living conditions and to involve peasant women in the local decision-making institutions. The effects of these policies were, however, unsatisfactory, which led to changes in ideas about gender among the activists themselves. Following on these findings, the article examines the divisions within the party, including the different motives of the leading communist women and men, struggles of activist women with local communist men, as well as the fragmented interests of peasant women. Finally, the article shows how deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes undermined Yugoslav communists’ ability to challenge gender norms in the countryside, causing many disputes and struggles within the Communist Party over the meanings and application of Soviet gender models.

Journal Article.  11301 words. 

Subjects: History of Gender and Sexuality ; International History ; Social and Cultural History ; Politics ; Race and Ethnicity

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