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Accepted Paper:

Women, Textiles, and the Textile-Text in 1930s Central Asia  
Claire Roosien (Yale University)

Paper long abstract:

Bolshevik rhetoric celebrated difference along gender and national lines, but only insofar as recognizing that difference facilitated integration into a universal public oriented toward mass production. But under the rhetoric of universality lurked a problem - Uzbek women had trouble fitting into a public that presumed the fit, male European as a norm. This problem was compounded by the continued challenge of attracting women to the cotton fields or the silk factory when many of them had yet to unveil or had unveiled only recently.

In a moment when the first two Five-Year Plans demanded mass mobilization for cotton production, culture played a vital role in imagining how the members of marked categories might fit into a public that often seemed to have no place for them. This paper examines Uzbek women's poetry as a lens into the fraught process of integrating women into a Soviet public. It shows that luxury textiles - silk and velvet, but ironically not cotton - became a medium through which women came to imagine themselves as participants in a broader state project. Given as awards for shock work and Stakhanovism, silk and velvet both appealed to women's senses and foregrounded their role in production under the Plan. As a result, textiles, and the textile-texts women wrote about them, served to create a respectable femininity-in-public (and femininity-in-production) for newly unveiled Uzbek women.

Panel LIT-02
Literature and Identity: Historical Models and New Configurations 1900-1940
  Session 1 Friday 11 October, 2019, -