Mugallima: Tatar women’s new social and professional role in the early 20th century

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Abstract


In this article, the author discusses a new social group within the Tatar secular intelligentsia - the female teachers ( mugallima s) of the national primary schools. The study is based on personal documents, in particular memories and autobiographies. At the turn of the 20th century, the issue of female education became particularly important in Tatar society. The author shows the transformation of the role of the ostazbika - the imam’s wife who traditionally used to teach the girls of the Muslim community - and presents an overview of the first Tatar girl schools. Pointing out the sources of the formation of mugallima as a separate social group, the author also identifies an intermediate variant of this social group. Furthermore, attention is paid to the problem of advanced training of the mugallima, the legal regulation of Tatar female teachers’ activities, and to their official duties as well as their material conditions. The author studied the mugallima’s position in the Muslim society in relation to the gender role of an average woman, considering the everyday behavior of the mugallima, the mugallima’s image in Tatar literature as well as the way different social groups perceived this profession. The author concludes that in Tatar society the professional status of the mugallima was legalized only during World War I, and the social perception of the mugallima remained ambivalent. While traditional Muslim society continued to disapprove of independent women, the national intelligentsia supported a positive image of the mugallima. However, the issue of combining pedagogical work and family remained open. Tatar feminists of the revolutionary epoch considered the work of the mugallima as an alternative to family life and put the interests of the nation before their private life.


About the authors

Liliya R Gabdrafikova

Sh. Marjani Institute of History of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
Email: bahetem@mail.ru
7, Baturina St., Kazan, 420111, Russia

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Chief Researcher of the Department of Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Tatarstan Republic’s Peoples of Sh. Marjani Institute of History under Tatarstan Academy of Sciences.

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