Amanda M. Williams

Amanda M. Williams


I obtained my BA in History (2014) and MA in History (2016) from the University of Mississippi. During my MA, I began some of the groundwork for my thesis project by reading and translating newspapers and periodicals. I completed preliminary archive trips to Slavic archives around the United States and Moscow, Russia. From 2018-2021 I will be completing my PhD research at the University of Leeds. My PhD is funded by the School of History and Institute of Medieval Studies PhD Studentship and I have been awarded several external grants to complete archive work in Moscow, Russia, Kiev, Ukraine, Vilnius, Lithuania, and Tbilisi, Georgia. My supervisors are Dr. Robert Hornsby and Dr. James Harris. 

Research interests

Doctoral Research

My thesis, ‘Materials for Maternity,’ establishes a vital connection between the evolution of abortion laws, the Communist morality movement, and the mass housing campaign in Soviet Russia from 1944-68. Initially, the re-legalization of abortion in 1955 seems in conflict with and paradoxical to the Soviet administrations’s pronatalist rhetoric. I argue, however, that the re-legalization of the abortion procedure was intimately connected to Nikita Khrushchev’s promise of ‘one family, one flat’ for mass housing and Leonid Brezhnev’s vow to improve citizen’s material living standards.

Concerned about falling birthrates, the Soviet state launched an anti-abortion campaign to persuade men and women about the dangers abortion posed both to women and to the state’s demographics. By making the procedure state-sponsored, officials hoped to regulate the procedure so women could save their reproductive abilities to become mothers in the future. Simultaneously, the leadership initiated a mass-housing campaign to eliminate a crucial deterrent to growing families: lack of space. Khrushchev’s slogan for this program was “one family, one flat” and echoed pronatalist values. While women continued to seek abortions, the pronatalist campaign initiated urbanization projects, improved health care and education, and the promise of a better life.


  • ‘‘The Influence of the Husband’: Men’s Roles in Reproductive Politics in Soviet Russia, 1936-1968,’ (currently under peer review). 

  • Review of Ed. Cristopher Scarborio, Diana Mincyte, Zsuzsa Gille, The Socialist Good Life: Desire, Development, and Standards of Living in Eastern Europe, Eurasian Geography and Economics (forthcoming).

  • Review of Thomas K. Murphy, Czechoslovakia Behind the Curtain: Life, Work and Culture in the Communist Era, Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 72 no. 4 (2020), pp. 749-50.

  • Review of Reich, Rebecca, State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin, H-Russia, H-Net Reviews, January 2019.

Selected Conference Papers

  • ‘‘A serious evil’: Contraception and Motherhood in the Soviet Union,’ International Congress of Central and East European Studies, Montreal, Canada, 2021

  • ‘‘They are afraid’: Medical Surveillance in Soviet Russia, 1940-54,’ The Struggle for Social Control in the Soviet Union, 1929 to 1956 Conference, Jena, Germany, 2021.

  • ‘‘The Influence of the Husband’: Men’s Roles in Reproductive Politics in Soviet Russia, 1936-1968,’ Men & Masculinities under Socialism, University of Bern, Switzerland, 2020.

  • ‘‘Measures to Combat Abortion’: Medical Policing and Pronatalism in Soviet Russia,’ British Association of Slavic and East European Studies, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2020. 

  • “'Yes, Abortion Is a Great Evil for Women': Reproductive Politics and Private Life in Soviet Russia, 1950-1979,” Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Boston, Massachusetts,USA 2018.

  • “‘If we were to add 100,000,000 to our 200,000,000, it would be too few!’: The Abortion Procedure, Propaganda, and Pronatalist Policies in Soviet Russia,” European Historical Association, Dallas, Texas, USA, 2017.

  • “Mothers in the Future: The Abortion Procedure, Communist Morality, and Housing in Soviet Russia, 1955 – 1980,” Midwest Slavic Conference, Columbus, Ohio, USA, 2017.

Selected Grants Awarded

  • Royal Historical Society Research Grant, 2020

  • British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Research Grant, 2020

  • Economic History Society Research Grant, 2019 – 2020

  • Bernadette E. Schmitt Grant, American Historical Association, 2018 – 2019

I have been awarded £6,500 over the course of my academic career. 

Teaching and Academic Mentorship

In my capacity as Postgraduate Tutor in the School of History at Leeds, I have taught:

  • Level-I European survey module ‘The Modern World’ (Spring 2020 and 2021)

Guest lectures:

  • ‘High Stalinism and the Ascension of Khrushchev,’ for Professor James Harris, University of Leeds

  • ‘The New Soviet Men and Women of the 1960s,’ for Dr. Robert Hornsby, University of Leeds

I am also a Level 3 Undergraduate Dissertation Mentor (2018-Present)

At the University of Mississippi, I was a teaching assistant for:

  • Level-I European survey module ‘Early Modern Europe’ (Spring 2018)

  • Level-I European survey module ‘Modern Europe’ (Fall 2017)

Guest Lectures:

  •    ‘Revolutionary Culture – Forging New Women and Men under the Bolsheviks,’ for Dr. Joshua First, University of Mississippi

  •  ‘The Relegalization of Abortion Under Nikita Khrushchev,’ for Dr. Joshua First, University of Mississippi

I was also a Student Tutor in History, English, Literature, and Writing (2015-2017)


I am fluent in English, but also have intermediate Russian 


  • M.A. in History from the University of Mississippi
  • B.A. in History from the University of Mississippi