Virtual Conference

Picture credit: I. Toidze, “In The Name of Peace” (1959)

Dr Muireann Maguire and Dr Eglė Kačkutė will co-convene a two-day online conference “Radiant Maternity”  in January 2022 to launch the Slavic and East European Maternal Studies Network. The conference will take place virtually on January 28th-29th, 2022.

We hope this event will encourage networking between scholars of Slavic and East European Studies and Maternal Studies academics, and we invite established Maternal Studies scholars to act as mentors and peer supporters to Slavic Studies specialists who are entering this field. Areas of specialization include but are not confined to literature (maternal fictions), various fields of cultural studies, history, and sociology. The Call for Papers is now open and will close on November 29th, 2021. Scholars in all aspects of Maternal Studies are invited to send expressions of interest and/or paper proposals of no more than 300 words to  by that date. For more information on appropriate topics, please see below. The language of the conference is English.

Vilnius University Main Court – the original location for this conference, before circumstances compelled us to go virtual


Distinguished historian Professor Natalia Pushkareva (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) will deliver the keynote lecture, “To Birth and To Bear: A History of Childbearing in Russia as a Subject of  Academic Research”.  Other speakers will be confirmed soon. To promote networking and knowledge exchange, established non-Slavist Maternal Studies researchers will chair each of the panels. In addition to aligning Slavic Studies scholars with peers and mentors in wider disciplinary fields, we hope to use this conference to identify research themes to be further refined (in collaboration between Slavist and non-Slavist scholars) at our one-day in-person Exeter symposium to be held on July 9th, 2022 and ultimately published as an Open Access edited volume.

Conference dates: January 28th-29th, 2022 (online)

Organizers: Dr Eglė Kačkutė (Vilnius University) and Dr Muireann Maguire (University of Exeter)

Conference contact email:

Funded by ‘Salt Babies: Narrating Maternity in Russian and Comparative Literature,’ a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Networking Grant awarded to Dr Muireann Maguire at the University of Exeter, 2021-22

Conference Theme: “Radiant Maternity” is a two-day virtual conference intended

  1. to survey the field of contemporary Slavic and East European Maternal Studies scholarship, spanning sociology, history, literature, gender and cultural studies;
  2. to integrate motherhood scholars from Slavic and East European studies with Maternal Studies academics from other language areas and disciplines.

Maternity, as an experience, a practice, an ideology and a field of study, radiates into multiple disciplines and languages: it overlaps with art history, anthropology, and literature, but also with legal history, war and trauma studies, and medical humanities among other domains. Motherhood research is a relatively new development within Slavic and East European Studies (SEES), despite landmark publications in literary and social history by Barbara Heldt, Melanie Ilic, Catriona Kelly, Dalia Leinartė, Natalia Pushkareva, and others. Motherhood researchers in Slavic and East European Studies even today are less likely to contribute to journals or present papers within interdisciplinary Maternal Studies; their research may not be visible to scholars outside of SEES. By inviting SEES researchers to present their research on thematic panels to be chaired or discussed by established scholars from other fields of Maternal Studies, “Radiant Maternity” aims to identify shared methodologies and research interests between SEES and non-SEES scholars, while promoting peer-to-peer networking and mentoring in a safe virtual space.

  • Maternal Studies scholars in any field of SEES:please send us your paper proposals on the themes listed below (no more than 300 words) by 26 November 2021. Priority will be given to papers by early-career Slavic and East European motherhood researchers, but all proposals will be considered.
  • Maternal Studies scholars specialized in non-SEES research: if you are willing to volunteer as a chair/discussant/research mentor (or any combination thereof) in a panel that reflects your research specialization, please let the organizers know.

 Fruitful themes for research and discussion will be revisited at a follow-up research workshop in-person in Exeter on July 7th, 2022, and the organizers hope to publish selected conference papers (elaborated in collaboration with or mentored by non-SEES scholars) as an Open Access edited volume in 2023.

Key questions we seek to address in the SEEMS “Radiant Maternity” conference:

  1. How is motherhood socially configured and culturally depicted in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union?
  2. How are mothers in the former Soviet region supported by society and by legal or governmental institutions?
  3. How are Russian and East European mothers and motherhood represented in the literature, art and culture of their respective nations?
  4. How are maternal fictions – literary treatments of motherhood – changing the discourse around maternity in the former Soviet region?

Pertinent research areas (within Slavic and East European Studies) include:

  • motherhood, parenthood, adoption and fostering
  • fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding: practice, policies, and support
  • maternal mental health
  • queer, transgender, and non-binary parenthood
  • midwifery and parturition aftercare
  • legacies of the Soviet experience of maternity and maternity care
  • migrant mothers and parents
  • legal and health-care issues for mothers and parents
  • any of the above in Slavic and East European art, literature, film and popular culture

Please send your proposals (no more than 300 words) to Dr Eglė Kačkutė (Vilnius University) and Dr Muireann Maguire (University of Exeter) at by 29 November 2021. Please note that the organizers will review all paper abstracts and notify applicants of acceptance or rejection in early December 2021.

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