Ethan Pollock (Brown University), ‘In the Banya I Changed My Worldview’: The Russian Bathhouse and Russian History” (European Studies Council)

Event time: 
Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Rosenkranz Hall (RKZ ), 102 See map
115 Prospect Street
Event description: 
For over a thousand years the banya (or Russian bathhouse) has been a crucial institution to a wide variety of people: men and women, rich and poor, straight and gay, religious and atheist. The omnipresence of the banya makes it a lens through which to view many aspects of Russia history, including hygiene, intimacy, sociability, and the relationship of Russia to the West. The banya is full of contradictions. It can clean bodies and spread disease. It can purify and befoul. It can create community and provide a means of excluding others. Taken together, thousands of sources ranging from archival documents and municipal regulations to idioms, films, art, cartoons, memoirs, diaries, songs, novels, poems, and plays provide the basis for this unprecedented portrait of the institution of the banya and for a new perspective on the history of Russia.
Ethan Pollock is Associate Professor of History and Russian Studies at Brown University. He is the author of Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars (Princeton, 2006.) His work on the Russian banya has been funded by the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research, a Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Fernand Braudel Fellowship from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. More information-