Socialist Secularism

Religion, Modernity, and Muslim Women's Emancipation in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, 1945–1991

in Aspasia
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  • 1 Bowdoin College pballing@bowdoin.edu
  • 2 Bowdoin College kghodsee@bowdoin.edu
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This article uses the examples of socialist Bulgaria and Yugoslavia to propose some new directions for rethinking scholarly understandings of “secularism” and the ways in which socialist secularizing projects were intricately intertwined with questions of gender equality. Current scholarly debates on the genealogy of secularism root its origins in the Catholic/Protestant West, and systematically ignore cases from the former communist world. This article takes two cases of Balkan states to explore the theoretical contours of what we call “socialist secularism.” Although Bulgaria and Yugoslavia’s experiences of socialist secularism differed in the degree of their coerciveness, this article examines the similarities in the conceptualization of the secularizing imperative and the rhetoric used to justify it, specifically the rhetoric of communist modernism and women’s liberation from religious backwardness.

Aspasia

The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History

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