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The Burden of History

The Defeat of Second-Wave Feminism in Greece

Margaret Poulos

Keywords: domocratization; Greek left; history; history and memory; memory; party politics; second-wave feminism

The specificity of national histories shapes the priorities, tensions, and character of respective feminist movements. In the case of Greece, several waves of occupation and resistance from the Second World War to the Colonels dictatorship (1967-1974) gave rise to a broad-based and complex women's movement in the 1970s. This paper investigates the main division in the movement between (a) activists who espoused the autonomy of feminist politics in the spirit of Western European and American feminisms and (b) activists who aligned women's liberation with the projects of the Greek socialist and communist left. This article seeks to illuminate the ways in which second-wave feminism was shaped by the legacy of the Second World War when, in popular memory, the notions of freedom, justice, and equality became identified with the Greek left. While the rift enriched the women's movement, deeply entrenched beliefs in feminism as a subdivision of mainstream politics prevailed and ultimately stifled the development of an enduring contemporary feminist political culture in Greece.

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