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Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research

Laboratorium is an open-access peer-reviewed journal produced by an international group of scholars. The bilingual journal, which comes out three times a year, publishes materials based on empirical social research in Russian and English languages.

Between 2009 and 2013, the journal was published with the financial support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The journal is now supported by the Centre for Independent Social Research (CISR) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

Current Issue

Self-Help Groups in Post-Soviet Moscow: Neoliberal Discourses of the Self and Their Social Critique

Larisa Honey

This article explores anthropological debates about the self and the role of self-help discourses in the production of neoliberal subjectivities in post-Soviet society. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth life story narratives, I analyze these discourses from the perspective of participants in self-help groups, which serve as an entry point for examining the impact of neoliberal reforms and the expansion of consumer capitalism in post-Soviet society. I highlight the multiple ways people make sense of the discourses and the wide range of “cultural resources” they engage to create meaningful experiences within the constraints of the new social conditions.

Language of Science and Language of Love: The Legitimation of Independent Midwifery Practice in Russia

Ekaterina Borozdina

The development of a “natural” approach to birth and the formation of independent midwifery practices are some of the most significant changes to contemporary Russian antenatal health care. In this article I consider the discourses employed by Russian midwives to mark their own (distinctive from medical) jurisdiction and to legitimize their status as members of an independent profession. I pay special attention to the implications that the professionalization of independent midwifery practice may have for Russian gender relations.

The Corporeality of Working-Class Men in Labor Regimes and the Private Sphere

Alexandrina Vanke

The article considers masculine corporeality as enacted in the working spaces of a construction site and a factory and as it is displayed in the private lives of workers through their sexuality and practices of care for the self. I compare the narratives of corporeality of male blue-collar workers from Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which I collected in 2010–2011. How do workers narrate their bodies? How is masculine corporeality related to the differing labor regimes of a Moscow construction site and a Saint Petersburg factory? What sexual strategies do male workers use? And how is masculine subjectivity constituted through practices of care for the self? This article aims to answer these questions.

Feminist Reflections on Fieldwork

Elena Zdravomyslova, Anna Temkina

In this article we contemplate feminist research and the practical concerns it raises. We discuss the principles of feminist fieldwork, including the ethics of care, cooperation between researcher and informant, acknowledgment of the situated nature of knowledge production, and the role of new knowledge in the empowerment of informants. We also consider the questions these principles raise: Are there any particular feminist methods? Can giving voice to the oppressed help explain structural inequalities? Is it possible to apply egalitarian principles in research? What problems in the field might be caused by an ethics of care? Although these dilemmas of the feminist approach to research are widely discussed in the international literature, they are almost completely absent from Russian academic discourse.