Female prostitution in urban Russia, 1900-1917

Hearne, Siobhan (2018) Female prostitution in urban Russia, 1900-1917. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis examines the social history of female urban prostitution in the final years of the Russian empire (1900-1917). During this period, the tsarist authorities legally tolerated prostitution under a system named regulation (reglemantatsiia) or the medical-police supervision of prostitution (vrachebno-politseiskii nadzor za prostitutsiei). The stated aim of regulation was to reduce levels of venereal disease, yet in practice the system functioned rather to control the movement and settlement of prostitutes by making them known to the authorities. This thesis focuses on the different groups that the rules of regulation directly affected, including prostitutes, their clients, their managers, and wider urban communities. It examines specific urban spaces, the state-licensed brothel, and the lives of registered prostitutes and their clients. This approach allows an exploration of how the system operated in practice and how the regulation of prostitution fitted within wider attempts by the imperial state to monitor lower-class people. In doing so, this thesis contributes to the growing literature on sexuality, on the intersections of gender and class, and on the experiences of lower-class people in late imperial Russia.

To illuminate the diversity of both state practice and social experience, this thesis draws on a wide range of correspondence from ‘above’ and ‘below’, including letters between central and provincial government institutions and petitions written by lower-class people to those in authority. This research moves away from focusing solely on the capital of St Petersburg to examine how the regulation of prostitution functioned at a local level, drawing on archival material from Arkhangel’sk, Riga, and Tartu. It argues that responses to the regulation system were rooted in the specific social, environmental and economic circumstances of a particular place and strongly influenced by the socio-economic transformations of the final decades of tsarist rule. In light of this, the thesis maps official and unofficial reactions to regulation onto the shifting social and economic landscape of modernising Russia. It explores how early twentieth-century urbanisation, industrialisation and transportation developments posed further challenges to the ambitions of the tsarist authorities to ‘know’ and monitor all the women who sold sex.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Badcock, Sarah
Baron, Nick
Keywords: female prostitution, russia, imperial russia, tsarist russia, women
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
H Social sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of History
Item ID: 47901
Depositing User: Hearne, Siobhan
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2020 04:30
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/47901

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