Elizabeth A. Wood is Professor of Russian and Soviet History at MIT. She has published two monographs in Soviet History, The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia (Indiana University Press, 1997) and Performing Justice: Agitation Trials in Early Soviet Russia (Cornell University Press, 2005). At MIT serves as co-director of the MIT-Russia Program, coordinator of Russian Studies, and adviser to the Russian Language Program, as well as teaching Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet Russian history and politics. Nationally, she serves as vice-chair of the board of NCEEER. Her current work centers on the performance of power under Vladimir Putin in Russia today.

Project Summary

Russia today is in the grip of an onslaught of domestic legislation that is nationalist and extremely conservative, even as the Kremlin struggles with the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Laws against homosexuality, foreign adoptions, offenses against believers, offshore holdings and bank accounts, even criticism of the Soviet Red Army in World War II have all been passed in a blizzard of claims that these are what “the people” want. Professor Elizabeth Wood’s monograph, “Power and Performance in Putin’s Russia,” explores the build-up of the Russian President’s control of the political sphere in the years 1999-2008, his continued exertion of his authority during the Medvedev years and the protests against his return to power, as well as the new post-2012 development of a conservative, expansionist ideology. It culminates in an exploration of the political theater in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine in 2014 and Moscow’s role in supporting the separatists.

Major Publications

"Performing Memory: Vladimir Putin and World War II in Russia," The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 38, 2 (2011):172-200
Performing Justice: Agitation Trials in Early Soviet Russia (Cornell University Press, 2005)
The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia (Indiana University Press, 1997)

Previous Terms

Research Grant, Kennan Institute. Assistant Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. January 1993-July 1993." Not by Politics Alone: Gender and State Formation in Post-Revolutionary Russia, 1917-1930". Focuses on the ways in which gender issues play a crucial role in state formation in Soviet Russia through areas relating to the formulation of gender norms, women Party activists’ criticisms of the New Economic Policy, debates among women concerning the best means to bring working women into the public sphere through labor organizing. Integrates theoretical work with the history of Soviet Russia.