Kristen R. Ghodsee
|Born||April 26, 1970|
|Alma mater||University of California at Berkeley
University of California at Santa Cruz
|Notable awards||Guggenheim Fellowship|
Kristen Ghodsee (born 1970) is an American ethnographer and the John S. Osterweis Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College. She is known primarily for her ethnographic work on post-communist Bulgaria as well as being a key player in the field of postsocialist gender studies. Contrary to the prevailing opinion of most feminist scholars in the 1990s who believed that women would be disproportionately harmed by the collapse of communism, Ghodsee argued that many East European women would actually fare better than men in newly competitive labor markets because of the cultural capital that they had acquired before 1989. She was also critical of the role of Western feminist nongovernmental organizations doing work among East European women in the 1990s. Ghodsee has also examined the shifting gender relations of Muslim minorities after communism, and the intersections of Islamic beliefs and practices with the ideological remains of Marxism-Leninism.
Ghodsee received her B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been awarded numerous research fellowships, including those from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. Ghodsee has also been a resident fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
In 2012, Kristen Ghodsee was elected president of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology.
In 2004, Ghodsee published one of the first articles considering the gendered aspects of the growing nostalgia for the communist era in Eastern Europe. Already beginning in the late 1990s, various scholars were examining the phenomenon of Ostalgie in former East Germany and what had been called “Yugo-nostalgia” in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. This earlier work on the emergence of communist nostalgia focused on its consumer aspects and considered the phenomenon a necessary phase that post-socialist populations needed to pass through in order to fully break with their communist pasts. In contrast, Ghodsee’s concept of “red nostalgia” considered how individual men and women experienced the loss of the real material benefits of the socialist past. Rather than just a wistful glance back at a lost youth, red nostalgia formed the basis of an emerging critique of the political and economic upheavals that characterized the post-socialist era. 
Ghodsee’s later work combines traditional ethnography with a literary sensibility, employing the stylistic conventions of creative nonfiction to produce academic texts that are meant to be accessible to a wider audience. Inspired by the work of Clifford Geertz and the conventions of “thick description,” Ghodsee is a proponent of “literary ethnography.” This genre uses narrative tension, dialogue and lyrical prose in the presentation of ethnographic data. Furthermore, Ghodsee argues that literary ethnographies are often “documentary ethnographies,” i.e. ethnographies whose primary purpose is to explore the inner working of a particular culture without necessarily subsuming these observations to a specific theoretical agenda.
Ghodsee’s third book, Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism, combines personal ethnographic essays with ethnographic fiction to paint a human portrait of the political and economic transition from communism. While some reviewers have found the book “compelling and highly readable,” and “an enchanting, deeply intimate and experimental ethnographic narrative,” others have faulted the book for telling a story “at the expense of theory.” Indeed, the fact that the book is “remarkably free of academic jargon and neologisms” has produced very “mixed feelings” within the scholarly community with one critic stating that “the somewhat unconventional technique of incorporating fiction alongside her [Ghodsee's] ethnographic vignettes feels a bit forced.” Outside of academia, however, one reviewer claimed that Lost in Transition "is very easy to read and is, in fact, impossible to put down, largely because it is so well-written."
Kristen Ghodsee's 2010 book, Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria was awarded the 2010 Barbara Heldt Prize for the best book by a woman in Slavic/Eurasian/East European Studies, the 2011 Harvard University/Davis Center Book Prize from the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, the 2011 John D. Bell Book Prize from the Bulgarian Studies Association and the 2011 William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology from the Society for the Anthropology of Europe of the American Anthropological Association.
Ghodsee also won the 2011 Ethnographic Fiction Prize from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology for the short story "Tito Trivia," included in her book, Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism.
- Kristen Ghodsee, Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism, Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0822351023
- Kristen Ghodsee, Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0691139555
- Kristen Ghodsee, ''The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea, Durham: Duke University Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0822336624
- Rachel Connelly and Kristen Ghodsee, Professor Mommy: Finding Work/Family Balance in Academia, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011. ISBN 978-1442208582
Significant Journal Articles
- "Rethinking State Socialist Mass Women's Organizations: The Committee of the Bulgarian Women's Movement and the United Nations Decade for Women, 1975-1985," Journal of Women's History, Volume 24, Number 4, Winter 2012.
- "Subtle Censorships: Notes on Studying Bulgarian Women's Lives Under Communism,"Journal of Women's History: Beyond the Page, Fall 2012
- "Feminism-by-Design: Emerging Capitalisms, Cultural Feminism and Women's Nongovernmental Organizations in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Spring 2004 (Vol. 29, No. 3)
- “Decentering Agency in Feminist Theory: Social Democracy, Postsocialism, and the Re-engagement of the Social Good” with Amy Borovoy, Women’s Studies International Forum, 35 (2012): 153-165
- “The Cold War Politicization of Literacy: UNESCO, Communism, and the World Bank,” with Charles Dorn, Diplomatic History, 36(2) 2011: 373-398
- “Socialist Secularism: Gender, Religion and Modernity in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, 1946-1989” with Pam Ballinger, Aspasia: The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History, Vol. 5: 6-27
- "Revisiting the International Decade for Women: Brief Reflections on Competing Definitions of Feminism and Cold War Politics from the American Perspective," Women's Studies International Forum, (2010) 33: 3-12
- "Minarets after Marx: Islam, Communist Nostalgia, and the Common Good in Postsocialist Bulgaria." East European Politics & Societies, November 2010 24: 520-542
- "Left Wing, Right Wing, Everything: Xenophobia, Neo-totalitarianism and Populist Politics in Contemporary Bulgaria", Problems of Post-Communism, (Vol. 55, No. 3 May–June 2008)
- "Religious Freedoms versus Gender Equality: Faith-Based Organizations, Muslim Minorities and Islamic Headscarves in Modern Bulgaria," Social Politics, (Vol. 14, No. 4, 2007)
- "Red Nostalgia? Communism, Women's Emancipation, and Economic Transformation in Bulgaria," L'Homme: Zeitschrift für Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft (Journal for Feminist History), Spring 2004 (Vol. 15, No. 1/2004).
- "And if the Shoe Doesn't Fit? (Wear it Anyway?): Economic Transformation and Western Paradigm of 'Women in Development' in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe," Women's Studies Quarterly, Fall & Winter 2003 (Vol. 31, No. 3 & 4).
- Revisiting 1989: The Specter Still Haunts, Dissent Magazine, Spring 2012
- "Коса" - разказ от Кристен Ghodsee ["Hair" in Bulgarian]
- "Tito Trivia," Anthropology and Humanism, Vol. 37, No. 1, June 2012: 105-108.
- Anthropology Review Database review of the Red Riviera
- Nongovernmental Ogres? How Feminist NGOs Undermine Women in Postsocialist Eastern Europe
- "Minarets After Marx": http://intl-eep.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/04/21/0888325410364254
- See, for instance: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1556-3502.2009.50531_2.x/abstract
- ACLS award page
- Kristen Ghodsee WWICS Page http://www.wilsoncenter.org/staff/kristen-r-ghodsee
- Kristen Ghodsee Radcliffe IAS page
- Red Nostalgia? Communism, Women's Emancipation, and Economic Transformation in Bulgaria, http://www.univie.ac.at/Geschichte/LHOMME/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19%3A15-1-2004-postkommunismen&catid=5%3Alhomme-zfg&Itemid=6&lang=en
- See, for instance Daphne Berdahl, "Ostalgie for the Present: Memory, Longing and East German Things" Ethnos, 1999 (http://diasporiclivesofobjects2012.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/east-german-objects-nostaligia.pdf)
- Daphne Berdahl, "Go, Trabi, Go!": Reflections on a Car and Its Symbolization over Time (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/ahu.2000.25.2.131/abstract)
- "Confidence in Democracy and Capitalism Wanes in Former Soviet Union" http://www.pewglobal.org/2011/12/05/confidence-in-democracy-and-capitalism-wanes-in-former-soviet-union/
- Writing Ethnographies that Ordinary People Can Read: http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2013/05/24/writing-ethnographies-that-ordinary-people-can-read/
- Review of Lost in Transition by Anthony Giorgieff (http://www.vagabond.bg/politics/2564-lost-in-transition.html)
- Heldt Prize past recipients
- 2011 John D. Bell Book Prize - http://press.princeton.edu/blog/2011/11/18/muslim-lives-in-eastern-europe-wins-the-john-d-bell-memorial-book-prize/
- 2011 SAE Douglass Prize Announcement http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-SAE&month=1109&week=a&msg=9L2sz8kNTHeyYQWMvLUBaQ&user=&pw=
- "Bowdoin Professor Wins Book Award" http://www.wiareport.com/2011/09/bowdoin-professor-wins-book-award/
- Duke University Press Awards Page: http://www.dukeupress.edu/Booksellers/awards.php
- Kristen Ghodsee's Guggenheim Page: http://www.gf.org/fellows/17215-kristen-r-ghodsee
- 2 Maine Educators win Guggenheims http://www.pressherald.com/news/2-Maine-educators-win-Guggenheim-fellowships.html
- Bowdoin, Colby Profs win Guggenheims http://www.pressherald.com/life/Mainers-win-Guggenheims.html
Interviews with Kristen Ghodsee
- (Audio) "Sixth Bulgarian Sets Himself on Fire to Protest Poverty," and interview with Marco Werman on The World.
- (Audio) Kristen Ghodsee discusses nostalgia for communism in Bulgaria with Lisa Mullins on BBC/PRI's The World
- (Audio) Kristen Ghodsee on Nostalgia for Communism on Northeast Public Radio
- (Audio) Kristen Ghodsee discusses headscarves in Bulgaria with Lisa Mullins on BBC/PRI's The World
- (Audio) "Sixth Fire Suicide in Bulgaria," Interview on Voice of Russia (UK Edition), March 21, 2013.
- (Video) Kristen Ghodsee discusses The Red Riviera with George Liston Seay on Dialogue
- (Video) Kristen Ghodsee discusses communist mass women's organizations on ILO TV
- (Print) Кристeн Годси: "Българските жени са приспособими, упорити и готови да поемат и най-големите предизвикателства"
- Kristen Ghodsee's Bowdoin College faculty page webpage
- Open Scholar webpage
- Kristen Ghodsee reads from Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism on The World
- Podcast of a book talk at UCLA (The Red Riviera)
- Headscarves as Politics: Gender, Islam and Shifting Discourses of Social Justice in the Balkans, a public lecture at Indiana University
- Rachel Connelly and Kristen Ghodsee, Professor Mom: Finding Work-Family Balance Despite the Odds in The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 24, 2011
- Nina Ayoub, "The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism, and Postsocialism on the Black Sea," in The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2005
- Kristen Ghodsee on the Open Anthropology Cooperative