Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Professor Kristen R. Ghodsee

Fellow Kirsten R. Ghodsee

December 2015 - April 2016

Kristen R. Ghodsee earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley and is an ethnographer and professor of gender, women's, and sexuality studies at Bowdoin College in the USA. Her research interests include the gendered effects of post-Cold War transformations and the ethnographic study of memory, history, and nostalgia in Eastern Europe. Ghodsee has received many grants and honors including residential fellowships at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Study (FRIAS) in 2014-2015, at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2010-2011, at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey in 2006-2007, and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2005-2006. In 2012, she became a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow for her work in Anthropology and Cultural Studies.

Research project at the Kolleg

Women in Red: Communist Mass Women's Organizations and International Feminism during the Cold War

Women in Red is a book-length manuscript that examines the transnational linkages between women from the former Eastern Bloc countries and progressive women's movements in Africa. During the Cold War, the women's committees in state socialist countries developed rich bilateral relationships with women in many newly independent nations as part of a larger program of political, economic and cultural exchanges between the "Second World" and the "Third World." Using ethnographic interviews and archival research, the book is an interdisciplinary exploration of the forgotten links between Africa and Eastern Europe through the lens of women's organizing. Using the case studies of the Committee for the Bulgarian Women's Movement (CBWM) and the United National Independence Party (UNIP) Women's League of Zambia, the book recuperates the history of international socialist women's activism. The book argues that state socialist women's organizations were key actors during the U.N. Decade for Women (1975-1985). By forging alliances with women from the developing world, women from the Eastern Bloc may have instigated Cold War competition over which economic system could provide more de facto and de jure equality to women. This was a rivalry that benefited all women in the long run, whether they lived in the "First," "Second," or "Third" Worlds.

Main areas of research

  • Cold War
  • Women and Gender
  • Eastern Europe
  • Public Memory of Communism
  • Ethnography
  • Bulgaria

Positions and memberships

  • 2014-2016 President, Society for Humanistic Anthropology
  • 2014-2017 President, Association of Members of the Institute for Advanced Study (AMIAS)
  • 2008 to present, Editorial Board Member, Women's Studies International Forum
  • 2014 to present, Editorial Board Member, Contemporary Southeastern Europe
  • 2015 to present, Member oft the Board of Friends, Group of Social Engagement Studies at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade
  • 2011-2013, Executive Committee Member-at-large for the Society for the Anthropology of Europe


Kristen R Ghodsee, The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005).

Kristen R Ghodsee, Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 2010).

Kristen R Ghodsee, Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011)

Rachel Connelly and Kristen R. Ghodsee. Professor Mommy: Finding Work/Family Balance in Academia (Baltimore, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011).

Kristen R Ghodsee, The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015).

Kristen R Ghodsee, From Notes to Narrative: Writing Ethnorgraphies that Everyone Can Read, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Articles (Journal)

Miroslava Nikolova and Kristen Ghodsee, "Socialist Wallpaper: Popular Education, Bitova Kultura and the Bulgarian Women's Committee, 1968-1990, Social Politics, 22(3), Fall 2015: 319-340.

Kristen Ghodsee, "Internationalisme socialiste et féminisme d'État pendant la Guerre froide. Les relations entre Bulgarie et Zambie ", Clio. Femmes, genre, histoire, 41, Fall 2015, "Le 'socialisme réel' à l'épreuve du genre," sous la direction de Sandrine Kott et Françoise Thébaud: 115-137.

Kristen Ghodsee, "A Tale of Two Totalitarianisms: The Crisis of Capitalism and the Historical Memory of Communism," History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History, 4(2), Fall 2014: 115-142.

Kristen Ghodsee, "Pressuring the Politburo: The Committee of the Bulgarian Women's Movement and State Socialist Feminism," Slavic Review, 73(3), Fall 2014: 538-562.

Kristen Ghodsee, "Research Note: The historiographical challenges of exploring Second World-Third World alliances in the international women's movement," Global Social Policy, 14(2), 2014: 244-264.

Kristen Ghodsee, "Rethinking State Socialist Mass Women's Organizations The Committee of the Bulgarian Women's Movement and the United Nations Decade for Women, 1975-1985," Journal of Women's History, (24)4, Winter 2012: 49-73.

Kristen Ghodsee, "The Cold War Politicization of Literacy: UNESCO, Communism, and the World Bank," with Charles Dorn, Diplomatic History, 36(2) 2011: 373-398.

Articles (Book)

Kristen Ghodsee, "Secularism without Liberalism: Post-Ottoman Symphoneia, Human Rights and American Foreign Policy in Southeastern Europe" in Eastern Christianity and Politics in the 21st Century, New York: Routledge, 2014.

Kristen Ghodsee, Жените в Червено: Комитетът на Движението на Българските Жени и Развитието на Прогресивните Женски Движения в Африка и Азия, 1980 - 1985 Г. in Gender and Transition, 1938-1958, Sofia: Center for Women's Studies and Policies (in Bulgarian).

Kristen Ghodsee, "Regulating Religious Symbols in Public Schools: The Legal Status of the Islamic Headscarf in Bulgaria," in Sieglinde Rosenberger and Birgit Sauer (eds.) Politics, Religion and Gender: Framing and Regulating the Veil, New York: Routledge, 2011.


Review of "Remembering Communism: Private and Public Recollections of Lived Experience in Southeast Europe," in H-Net Reviews, November 2015.

Review of "Staging Socialist Femininity," in Aspasia: The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History, Vol. 9, 2015.

Review of "Transforming Faith: The Story of Al-Huda and Islamic Revivalism among Urban Pakistani Women," in American Ethnologist, 40(1), 2013: 219-220.

Review of "Eastern Christians in Anthropological Perspective," Politics, Religion and Ideology (12)4: 471-472 Review of "Women's Social Activism in the New Ukraine," American Ethnologist, (38)4: 834-835.