"On Saturday All of Russia Goes to the Bania": Bathing and Hygiene in Late Imperial Russia

Friday February 27

PrintIcon Print Page

Room Information

Fri Feb 27 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM 108N, North House


Ethan Pollock
Department of History, Brown University

Contact Info

Essyn Emurla


Countless descriptions of everyday life in late imperial Russia testify to the importance of cleaning oneself in the bania or bathhouse for men and women, urban elites and peasants, business owners and factory workers, socialists and nationalists, and just about anyone else who could take the heat. This talk explores the prevalence of the bania across a wide spectrum of late imperial culture and questions the degree to which the conditions in urban and rural baths were conducive to public health and personal hygiene.

Ethan Pollock teaches Russian and Soviet history at Brown University, where he has been on faculty since 2006. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2000. His book, Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars (Princeton University Press, 2006; paperback 2008), examines Soviet politics, science, and ideology during the last years of Joseph Stalin's life and the first years of the Cold War. His current research on the Russian bathhouse – or bania – explores questions of public and private space, sexuality, hygiene, and the body in the context of social and political upheaval and change. He has held post-doctoral fellowships in the history of recent science (George Washington University) and in Russian Studies (Columbia University) and taught at Syracuse University before moving to Brown.