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 2018-2022 I will be completing my PhD research at the University of Leeds. My supervisors are Dr. Robert Hornsby and Dr. James Harris.
“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 1950 – 1979. 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.
I am very interested in the history of medicine, urban history, reproduction/contraception, and everyday life in the Soviet Union.
- M.A. in History from the University of Mississippi
- B.A. in History from the University of Mississippi