- Texts and Contexts from the History of Feminism and Women’s Rights in East Central Europe, from 1945 till the early 2000s
Texts and Contexts from the History of Feminism and Women’s Rights in East Central Europe, from 1945 till the early 2000s
The project Texts and Contexts from the History of Feminism and Women’s Rights in East Central Europe is finally taking shape as an edited volume of source texts, published by CEU Press and funded not only by the CEU Pasts Inc., but also by the COST Action NEP4DISSENT, as well as the European Commission through a MSCF.
The volume will show through a collection of primary sources how feminism as political thought or ideology is shaped and organised in the region. Since women have had to find creative ways to express their thoughts, the source texts are rich in type and format. They vary from political treatises, philosophy to literary works, even films and the visual arts, with the inherently necessary incorporation of the personal and the private. Women’s political rights, right to education, women’s role in nation-building, women and war (and especially women and peace) are just as valid themes as the gendered division of labour, violence against women, the body, and reproduction. Organising the book around topics helps to overcome the danger of implicitly labelling one country more advanced than the other, acknowledging the a-synchronicity of similar trends and focusing on the entanglements of important issues in and between varying contexts.
Through the selection of texts, the similarities and differences between the individual local, national contexts are to be highlighted. The contextualisation not only places women in their national context, but also shows the intersections between other systems of thought, for example the alliances or shared agenda with liberalism, nationalism, and even eugenics. The aim of telling a regional story is automatically entangled with the global history of feminist thought and the thinking of women’s place in society: besides the frequent interactions with feminists in Western Europe and North America, there are influences from India to the Middle East present in Central and Eastern Europe. As feminism is always already transnational, the creation of a volume of selected texts needs to be a result of a transnational, intercultural, multidisciplinary cooperation.
There have been local attempts, as well as international efforts to think about a feminist canon of East Central Europe. Feminist thought has been present in the region from the early 19th century on, proving that the East—West divide and the discourse on the backwardness of the region in terms of women’s rights and feminist thinking do not hold. The rich selection of biographies of individual women in the Biographical Dictionary edited by Francisca de Haan, Krassimira Daskalova and Anna Loutfi, as well as a growing body of monographs, edited volumes and journal issues about women’s movements, women’s activism, and feminism show us that there is a growing shared knowledge of the regional feminist ideas.
Beyond the work broadly termed as women’s and gender history, there is book project which in terms of methodology and approach is a forerunner of this reader of feminist texts. The Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770-1945) is a collection of texts from the region which had an “ideological function in terms of collective identity”. These diverse texts, from pieces of literature to anthems, constitutions, revolutionary songs to political essays and philosophical treatises are put in context. The other exemplary attempt to create a regionally encompassing corpus is the three-volume A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe (Oxford UP, 2016, 2018) by a team of scholars partly overlapping the team that prepared the Discourses of Collective Identity volumes. While the book is a historical-analytical one, i.e. not a collection of sources, its aim is to put the different national canons into dialogue with each other along thematic and conceptual similarities and differences.
We also have a number of important genealogical projects in the country languages, which also prove that there is a demand for finding out more about the feminist histories in East Central Europe. In Romanian, there are already two selections of the important feminist texts edited by Ştefania Mihailescu and Ghizela Cosma. One also may mention the presentation of feminist foremothers in various issues of the Serbian journal ProFemina, and the edited volume by Suzana Tratnik and Nataša S. Segan about the lesbian movement in Slovenia, as well as the online archives of the feminist internet journal in Hungary, nokert.hu. There was an attempt to provide a selection of important feminist texts in original language or English translation from 29 European countries on the website FRAmes on GENder (http://www.fragen.nu/atria/fragen/), a project that stopped and is not accessible any more.
Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia (Czech and Slovak sources), Estonia, the GDR, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia (sources from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia), and Ukraine.
Table of Contents (under revision):
1) Reinvention of the interwar period
2) War (WWII, Yugoslavia 1990s)
3) Ideologies of women’s emancipation
4) Time budgets and double burden
5) Politicising motherhood (and fatherhood)
6) Domestic violence
7) Women in party structures: Internal dissent and compliance
8) Reproductive rights and demography
9) Health, sexuality and the body
10) Minorities, racism
11) Transfer of “Western“ feminisms
12) Open society, dissidents, and feminism
The book had been prepared through 4 workshops and one meeting (most of which were supported by the CEU Pasts Inc.), and a series of Zoom meetings since April 2020.
The in-person meetings include:
- 4-6 June 2015, Budapest, CEU (funded by CEU Pasts Inc.)
- 11-13 February 2016, Florence, EUI (funded by CEU Pasts Inc. and the EUI)
- 11-13 May 2017, Budapest, CEU (funded by CEU Pasts Inc.)
- 8-9 March 2018, Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena (funded by the IKK)
- 4-5 June 2018, editorial team meeting at Budapest, CEU (funded by CEU Pasts Inc.)
More than 30 scholars have been involved in the preparation of the volume so far. Beyond the workshop participants, the editors are in touch with several scholars who are advising on the process.
Workshop participants (their affiliation at the time of the event): Maryna Batsman (EUI HEC), Chiara Bonfiglioli (University of Cork), Jana Cviková (Institute of World Literature, Bratislava), Krassimira Daskalova (St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, Bulgaria), Celia Donert (University of Liverpool), Francisca de Haan (CEU, Budapest), Anna Frisone (EUI HEC), Alexandra Ghit (CEU, Budapest), Isidora Grubački (CEU), Manca Grgić Renko (University of Ljubljana), Isidora Grubački (CEU), Daniela Gruber (IKK Jena), Linda Gusia (University of Prishtina), Adela Hincu (CEU, Budapest), Iva Jalušić (CEU), Liisi Keedus (University of York/University of Tallinn), Oksana Kis (National Academy of Science of Ukraine, Lviv), L’ubica Kobová (Charles University, Prague), Pavel Kolář (EUI HEC), Michal Kopeček (IKK Jena / Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague), Nita Luci (University of Prishtina), Zuzana Maďarová (Comenius University, Bratislava), Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc (Institute of Culture and Memory Studies, Ljubljana), Ana Miškovska Kajevska (University of Amsterdam), Agnieszka Kościańska (University of Warsaw), Rasa Navickaitė (CEU), Denisa Nečasová (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic), Irina Novikova (University of Latvia, Riga), Libora Oates-Indruchová (University of Graz), Almira Ousmanova (European Humanities University, Vilnius), Enriketa Pandelejmoni (University of Tirana, Albania), Ivana Pantelić (Institute of Contemporary History, Belgrade), Eva Clarita Monika Pettai (IKK Jena), Joachim von Puttkamer (IKK Jena / University of Jena), Julija Sardelić (University of Liverpool / EUI MWP SPS), Katarzyna Stańczak-Wiślicz (Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Literary Research, Warsaw, Poland), Ann Thomson (EUI HEC), Balázs Trencsényi (CEU, Budapest), Esther Wahlen (EUI HEC), Adriana Zaharijević (Belgrade University)