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Philippa Hetherington

Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History, UCL

I am a Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, where I research and teach the cultural, social and legal history of imperial Russia and the early Soviet Union in global and transnational context. I also work in the fields of comparative legal history, feminist and queer theory, and the cultural and intellectual history of the fin-de-siècle.

This constellation of interests led me to the topic of my current book manuscript Circulating Subjects: The Traffic in Women and the Russian Invention of an International Crime. This book draws on the dissertation I wrote for my PhD at Harvard University. Building on research conducted in fourteen archives across Moscow, St Petersburg, Odessa, Geneva and London, it examines the emergence of 'trafficking in women' as a specific crime in turn of the century Russia, and links this to the development of international humanitarian law, migratory regimes, and imperial governance. In addition, I have written on ‘obscene materials’ as objects of prohibition in early international criminal law, gender and socialist consumer culture, the social and legal history of prostitution in Moscow and St Petersburg since 1600, and the gendered dynamics of the Russian refugee crisis.

After finishing my PhD, I spent a year as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Laureate Research Program in International History at the University of Sydney, Australia, where I will also be a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow in August 2017. I am currently co-investigator on the three-year AHRC project Trafficking, Smuggling and Illicit Migration in Gendered and Historical Perspective, c.1870-2000, alongside Dr Julia Laite (Birkbeck). In 2017-2018 I will also hold a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, for the project 'Russia's Global Legal Trajectories: International Law in Eurasia Past and Present.' Over the years, my research has been funded by fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Australian Research Council, and the Edward J. Safra Center for the Study of Ethics. Alongside lecturing and research, I currently sit on the editorial collective of the journal Gender & History, co-edit the book reviews section of H-HistSex (the primary online forum for the study of the history of sexuality) and was the first editor of Russian Studies Dissertation Reviews (2011-2013).


  • –present
    Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History, UCL