Sarah Richter Awarded Mainzer Doctoral Fellowship

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

black and white photo of couple outside

Sophie and Peter Kropotkin. Photo courtesy of the Kropotkin Museum.

Curent Ph.D. Candidate Sarah Richter was awarded the GSAS Mainzer Summer Fellowship! The award is given annual to an outstanding doctoral students to support their study in the areas of love and sexuality, gender studies, or the psychology of love and sexuality.

Richter planned to use the Mainzer Fellowship to visit archives in Russia and Amsterdam which house materials on Sophie Kropotkin, the little-known wife of Peter Kropotkin, author of Mutual Aid. In anarchist history, Sophie is either absent or given only as Peter's caretaker, to the detriment of her own published writings; her work as a midwife, scientist, and feminist; and the fact of her editorial, intellectual, and political contributions to her husband's research. Richter hoped to visit the Kropotkins's home in Dmitrov, which is now the Kropotkin Museum, as well as the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, which holds many of Sophie's letters. Though travel is no longer possible, the present brings Richter a renewed opportunity to consider the relationship between reproductive labor and mutual aid. Peter Kropotkin maintained that the latter, mutual aid, was the generative, general force of sociability and collaboration upon which survival depends. With Sophie, Richter is rethinking mutual aid within histories of feminised, reproductive labor and dwell more deeply in the links Peter Kropotkin draws between kinship, group, and band formation and social and species continuity. Thanks to the funds generously afforded by the Mainzer Fellowship, Richter will correspond with relevant archives and institutions at a distance, begin careful work with translators, and make way for site visits down the road. Meanwhile, Richter will continue to inhabit her own counter-domestic performances of care and survival with those both near and strange to me, so that we all may live.