Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Abstract

The love affair between the aristocratic socialist feminist Aleksandra Mikhailovna Kollontai (1872-1952) and metalworker Bolshevik Aleksandr Gavrilovich Shliapnikov (1885-1937) intrigued both their contemporaries and historians of the Russian Revolution. Both were prominent leaders of the Workers' Opposition, yet Kollontai survived Stalin's purges while Shliapnikov perished. Their relationship, which began in 1911, encompassed romantic partnership, political collaboration and friendship. Shliapnikov and Kollontai ceased being lovers in 1916, but remained political allies and friends for much longer. Their relationship offers interesting material for considering the interplay between politics, identity, and emotions in history. Kollontai’s construction of her femininity and Shliapnikov’s identity as a worker-intelligent or “conscious” worker and professional revolutionary influenced their personal and working relationship. Moreover, their interpersonal communication reveals different emotional repertoires. Both Shliapnikov’s and Kollontai’s identities changed during their life-times. Although their identities underwent transformation, their emotional repertoires remained constant and continued to influence their complex relationship.