Photo of Erica Fraser

Erica Fraser

Associate Professor - Russian and Soviet history; gender history; Cold War culture; military cultures and postwar societies; daily life, popular culture, and sports and leisure in communist states

Degrees:B.A. Hons (University of Calgary), M.A. (University of British Columbia), Ph.D. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2836
Office:447 Paterson Hall

Research Interests

  • Russian and Soviet history
  • Gender history
  • Cold War cultures
  • Military cultures and postwar societies
  • Daily life, popular culture, and sports and leisure in communist states

I am a historian of Russia with a particular interest in gender and culture in the Soviet Union during the 20th century. My work examines the gender and cultural impact of military institutions; how masculinities were constructed and maintained across the Soviet century; daily life for population groups such as youth, conscripts, working mothers, athletes, and scientists; sports and leisure in communist states; popular culture in the late Cold War; and how culture(s) worked in tandem with political and economic priorities to produce distinctly Soviet experiences.

photo of book cover with two soldiers standing facing each otherMy first book, Military Masculinity and Postwar Recovery in the Soviet Union (University of Toronto Press, 2019), explores the complexities of military masculinity in the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Catastrophic wartime casualties and postwar discomfort with the successes of women who had served in combat roles combined to shatter prewar ideals about what service meant for Soviet masculine identity. The soldier had to be re-imagined and resold to a public that had just emerged from the Second World War and a younger generation suspicious of state control. In doing so, Soviet military culture wrote women out and attempted to re-establish soldiering as the premier form of masculinity in society.

I am currently building on and expanding from my book research into two new projects. The first (drawing on the title of a classic Soviet hockey anthem) is called Real Men Play Hockey: The Invention of Nordic Masculinity in Soviet Sports Culture. It explores the roots of what was called “Canadian-style” hockey, which Soviet leagues adopted after the Second World War to replace an older Russian version of the sport. Drawing on the work of environmental historians, this project treats ice as a historical actor and takes seriously the development of a cultural terrain for Soviet sport that privileged the intersection of Nordic-Slavic and masculinized identities. The second is called Russians on TV: The Slavic Other in North American Popular Culture since 1991. It examines the uses (and misuses) of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet historical settings and characters in American and Canadian popular culture, such as the portrayal of a mentally unstable Ukrainian clone on the television series Orphan Black or married Russian spies working in Washington in the 1980s on The Americans.

I am accepting graduate students in Russian and East European gender history, war and culture on the Eastern front, Cold War societies and cultures, and sports history. Students interested in gender and culture in imperial Russia before the 20th century are also encouraged to get in touch with me.

Select Publications

 Military Masculinity and Postwar Recovery in the Soviet Union (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019).

“Yuri Gagarin and Celebrity Masculinity in Soviet Culture,” in Philip E. Muehlenbeck, ed, Gender, Sexuality, and the Cold War (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2017): 270-89.

“Soviet Masculinities and Revolution,” in Catherine Baker, ed, Gender in 20th-Century Eastern Europe and the USSR (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017): 127-40.

“Gender and Sexuality in Russian History: New Directions.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, Vol. 25, no. 2 (June 2015): 319-28.

“Masculinity in the Personal Narratives of Soviet Nuclear Physicists,” Aspasia, Vol. 8 (2014): 45-63.


Awards and Grants

Professional Achievement Award, Carleton University, 2019

Global History of Sport in the Cold War workshop series, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, 2015

Recent Conference Presentations

“The Peculiarities of Women’s Hockey in the Soviet Union.” Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Annual Convention. San Francisco, CA, November 2019 (accepted).

“Writing for the New Recruits: Masculinity and Identity in Soviet Military Fiction after World War II.” Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Annual Convention. Chicago, IL, November 2017.

“‘Real Men Play Hockey’: Soviet Masculinity and Hockey Culture during the Cold War.” Global History of Sport in the Cold War workshop series, German Historical Institute. Moscow, Russia, May 2015.

“Real Men Play Hockey.” Podcast interview with the Wilson Center Digital Archive, Sport in the Cold War workshop series. Moscow, Russia, May 2015.

“Performing Global Brotherhoods: Diplomacy and Masculinity on Yuri Gagarin’s African Tours.” Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Annual Convention. San Antonio, TX, November 2014.

“Russian Exceptionalism and LGBT Rights: Some Historical Context.” Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting. St. Catharine’s, ON (Brock University), May 2014.