From the Womb to the Body Politic: Raising the Nation in by Anna Kuxhausen

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By Anna Kuxhausen

In Russia in the course of the moment 1/2 the eighteenth century, a public dialog emerged that altered perceptions of being pregnant, beginning, and early adolescence. childrens started to be seen as a countrywide source, and childbirth heralded new contributors of the physique politic. The solely lady international of moms, midwives, and nannies got here below the scrutiny of male physicians, country associations, a number of zealous reformers, or even Empress Catherine the Great.
    Making cutting edge use of obstetrical manuals, belles lettres, children’s primers, and different fundamental files from the period, Anna Kuxhausen attracts jointly many discourses—medical, pedagogical, and political—to express the scope and audacity of latest notions approximately childrearing. Reformers aimed to educate ladies to take care of the our bodies of pregnant moms, babies, and youngsters in line with clinical criteria of the Enlightenment. Kuxhausen finds either their optimism and their occasionally deadly blind spots in issues of implementation. In analyzing the implication of ladies in public, even political, roles as brokers of state-building and the civilizing approach, From the Womb to the physique Politic bargains a nuanced, accelerated view of the Enlightenment in Russia and the ways that Russians imagined their country whereas developing notions of childhood.

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Extra resources for From the Womb to the Body Politic: Raising the Nation in Enlightenment Russia

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52 Yet, it is important to note, in all of the projects and literature under review here, Russian reformers tended toward the humanitarian: all children, regardless of sex or social status, were deemed worthy of life itself and, ideally, would receive good nutrition, proper physical care, exercise out-of-doors, and an upbringing that instilled dignity and love of the fatherland. 53 Thomas Malthus, the author of An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), criticized projects aimed at improving the welfare of the poor, which, in his eyes, would lead only to a dangerous surplus population without an accompanying increase in food production.

44 Moral upbringing was very much related to the physical component, Novikov explained: if one cannot control one’s passions, the body suffers along with the soul. In the Russian texts under consideration here, the material and spiritual bled into each other; material substances could transmit spiritual qualities and vice versa. Thus, a mother’s “sin” could be passed on to an unborn child, or unsavory characteristics of a wet nurse could be communicated through her breast milk. 45 It is also important to understand what vospitanie was not.

In his statist solution, Kondoidi reflected trends beginning to emerge in the eighteenth century. Like the other physicians and statesmen who would follow him and continue to pursue reforms in vospitanie, he sought to rescue infant life not only as a private good but also as a good for the state. 41 It is worth noting that Kondoidi referenced the example of other European nations in a direct play for national sentiment among his colleagues. Russia’s status as a strong European power thus depended on acting like other European states, which were already investing in institutions to improve the nation’s population, an idea we will return to later.

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