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Babi Bunty

BABI BUNTY

A set of actions used by peasant women to resist collectivization between 1928 and 1932.

It derives from the words baba, a pejorative term describing uncultured peasant women, and bunt, a spontaneous demonstration or protest. Babi bunty encompassed a range of actions intended to disrupt collectivization, including interrupting village meetings, harassing Soviet officials, and reclaiming seed, livestock, or household goods that previously had been seized by the collective farm. These actions were among the more effective means used by the peasants to oppose state policy, and sometimes led to the temporary dissolution of newly formed collective farms. Their frequent use in the winter of 19291930 likely played a role in the party leadership's decision to slow the pace of collectivization in March 1930.

The gendered aspect of babi bunty was very important. The Bolsheviks considered peasant women to be an especially backward social group, one incapable of organized political action. They believed that babi bunty were incited by kulaks and other anti-Soviet elements, who were manipulating the women. Because of this belief, the Bolsheviks responded with propaganda instead of force. Peasant men who resisted Soviet policies during this period, on the other hand, were treated with great violence. The peasants' recognition that participants in babi bunty would be treated leniently made these actions a favored form of resistance to collectivization. Although babi bunty only slowed the collectivization process, their frequency likely played a role in the state's decision eventually to grant peasants some concessions, such as the right for each family to retain one cow.

See also: bolshevism; collectivization of agriculture; kulaks

bibliography

Viola, Lynne. (1992). "Bab'i bunty and Peasant Women's Protest during Collectivization." In Russian Peasant Women, eds. Beatrice Farnsworth and Lynne Viola. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Viola, Lynne. (1996). Peasant Rebels Under Stalin: Collectivization and the Culture of Peasant Resistance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brian Kassof

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