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Intimate Passports

The Subversive Performances of Tanja Ostojić

Jehanne-Marie Gavarini

The article explores the artwork of Tanja Ostojić, an interdisciplinary artist from Serbia who uses performance art to examine social and political issues. Ostojić in particu- lar expresses the migrant woman’s perspective when facing today’s world of political and economic inequities. With caustic humor, the artist examines who occupies cen- ter positions and who remains in the margins. Ostojić’s subversive performances blur the boundaries between art and life. Her use of her own body, personal history, and identity reflects a feminist perspective. Placing Ostojić’s work in the longer history of performance art, this article analyzes how this provocative artist pushes the boundar- ies of art and culture by denouncing the power dynamics that rule exclusive systems such as the Western-dominated art world and the European Union.

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Introduction

Pamela Ballinger and Kristen P. Ghodsee

Scholars of religion have increasingly brought secularism within the framework of critical studies of spirituality, analyzing the dialogic relationship between religions and secularisms past and present. This emerging field of “postsecularist” studies examines the multiple meanings and practices that different cultures and societies attach to the concepts of “religion,” “faith,” and “piety.” The articles presented in this special section of Aspasia contribute to these larger academic debates by focusing on the multiethnic and historically pluralistic region of Southeastern Europe, an area too often ignored in larger scholarly discussions that have focused primarily on Western Europe and the so-called Third World. More important, the articles in this volume demonstrate how secularization projects are intricately interwoven with gender relations in any given society. Collectively, the articles urge readers to draw connections between the shifting spiritual cartographies, state formations, and definitions of appropriate masculinity and femininity of particular Southeastern European societies.

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The Krŭchma, the Kafene, and the Orient Express

Tobacco, Alcohol, and the Gender of Sacred and Secular Restraint in Bulgaria, 1856-1939

Mary Neuburger

This article explores shifts in patterns of consumption of alcohol and tobacco in Bulgaria, with a focus on public establishments in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. In exploring both the gender dimension of such shifts and its religious implications, the article argues that public consumption of tobacco in particular both reflected and was constitutive of dramatic historical change. At the same time, the increased consumption of such culturally fraught substances provoked an increase in both religious and secular campaigns of “restraint,” in which gender played a key role.

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Reconstructing the History of the Constitutional Era in Ottoman Turkey through Women's Periodicals

Serpil Atamaz-Hazar

This article discusses the historical value of Ottoman women’s periodicals published in the aftermath of the 1908 Revolution, which marked the beginning of the Constitutional Era (1908–1918). Through specific examples of women’s writings in the press, it illustrates how these periodicals can shed light on the previously unexplored aspects of this period. The article argues that women’s journals allow scholars both to recover the identities and stories of hundreds of women, which would have been lost otherwise, and to challenge the mainstream historiography, which has traditionally presented a one-dimensional portrayal of the Constitutional Era by privileging men’s voices and experiences over women’s. It demonstrates that women’s journals not only reveal a dynamic, flexible, and complex milieu, in which women could and did act as agents of both social and political change, but also signify the multifaceted transformation the Revolution of 1908 caused in Ottoman society in the early twentieth century.

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Socialist Secularism

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

Pamela Ballinger and Kristen Ghodsee

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.

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Women and Gender in an Age of Fervent Nation-Building

Case Studies from Southeastern Europe

Svetla Baloutzova

Tatyana Stoicheva, Bulgarski identichnosti i evropeiski horizonti, 1870–1912 (Bulgarian identities and European horizons, 1870–1912) (Sofia: Iztok-Zapad, 2007), 377 pp., 14 BGN (pb), ISBN 954321345-3.

Mari A. Firkatian, Diplomats and Dreamers: The Stancioff Family in Bulgarian History (Lanham, MD, UK: University Press of America, 2008), 359 pp., ISBN-13: 978-0-7618-4069-5.

İpek Çalışlar, Latife Hanim (Kalem Literary Agency, 2006; Bulgarian translation: Sofia: IK “Uniskorp,” 2009), 479 pp., 17 BGN (pb), ISBN 978-954-330-222-2.

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The Birth of a Field

Women's and Gender Studies in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe

Krassimira Daskalova, Mihaela Miroiu, Agnieszka Graff, Tatiana Zhurzhenko, Marina Blagojevic, and Judit Acsády

Every volume of Aspasia includes an ‘Aspasia Discussion Forum’ in which a particular topic is highlighted or debated. Aspasia dedicates this year’s (2010) and next year’s (2011) Forums to the field of women’s and gender studies in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE). The idea came from a round-table on Gender Studies in CESEE organised by Aspasia editor Maria Bucur for the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS) in Philadelphia in November 2008. The pieces included here by Agnieszka Graff and Mihaela Miroiu were first presented at that round-table. The other participants wrote their contributions especially for Aspasia. The five texts in this Forum are a wonderful be- ginning of our discussions about the establishment and development of women’s and gender studies in CESEE in the last two decades. Next year we will continue with the presentation of the state of the art in this field in other important East European contexts. During the period under consideration, the category of ‘gender’ appeared as an analytical tool in the realm of historical research in CESEE as well. To follow these developments, the 2012 issue of Aspasia will host a Forum dedicated specifically to the appearance and progress of women’s and gender history as a field of study and an academic discipline in the region.

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Book Reviews

Orlin Sabev, Georgeta Nazarska, Ivan Chorvát, Maria Rentetzi, Tatyana Stoicheva, Jasmina Lukić, Alina Haliliuc, Raili Põldsaar, Alon Rachamimov, Sabina Žnidaršič, Grażyna Szelagowska, and Oksana Kis

Elif Ekin Aksit, Kızların Sessizlig ̆i. Kız Enstitülerinin Uzun Tarihi (The silence of girls: The long history of female institutes)

Tzvetana Boncheva, Brak I semejstvo pri balgarite katolitsi ot Plovdivsko prez parvata polovina na XX vek (Marriage and family life of the Bulgarian Catholics from the Plovdiv region during the first half of the twentieth century)

Zora Bútorová et al, She and He in Slovakia: Gender and Age in the Period of Transition

Christine von Oertzen, The Pleasure of a Surplus Income: Part-Time Work, Gender Politics, and Social Change in West Germany, 1955–1969

Karl Kaser, Patriarchy after Patriarchy: Gender Relations in Turkey and in the Balkans, 1500–2000

Alaine Polcz, One Woman in the War. Hungary 1944–1945

Zoltán Rostás and Theodora-Eliza Va ̆ca ̆rescu, eds., Cealalta ̆ juma ̆tate a istoriei. Femei povestind (The other half of history: Women telling their stories)

Suzanne Stiver Lie, Lynda Malik, Ilvi Jõe-Cannon and Rutt Hinrikus, eds., Carrying Linda’s Stones: An Anthology of Estonian Women’s Life Stories

Laurie S. Stoff, They Fought for the Motherland: Russia’s Women Soldiers in World War I and the Revolution

Nina Vodopivec, Labirinti postsocializma (The labyrinths of post-socialism)

Anna Zarnowska, Workers, Women, and Social Change in Poland, 1870–1939

Tatyana Zhurzhenko, Gendernyye rynki Ukrainy: politicheskaya ekomomiya natsionalnogo stroitelstva (The gendered markets of Ukraine: The political economy of nation building)

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The Collectivisation of Pleasure

Normative Sexuality in Post-1966 Romania

Erin K. Biebuyck

This article examines several sex manuals from Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Romania for the ideologically-infused sex norms they contain. These manuals constructed a sexual ideal that located pleasure in the marital couple rather than in the individual, defining ‘normal sexuality’ as heterosexual and privileging its collective significance as an act for reproduction over the experience of pleasure by an individual. This collective model of pleasure was key to the construction of the communist subject as a member of a collective rather than as an autonomous individual. While this collective subject had roots in Romanian pre-communist traditions, communist sex experts rejected conventional gender roles according to which women are subordinate to men. Subsequent comparisons with contemporaneous American sex manuals reveal that the Romanian communist discourse on pleasure differed significantly from that of popular American sex advice of the same period.

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Editorial

Francisca de Haan, Maria Bucur, and Krassimira Daskalova

This is the fourth volume of Aspasia, an international peer-reviewed yearbook, the aim of which is to provide a forum for the best scholarship in the field of interdisciplinary women’s and gender history of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The articles published in Aspasia contribute to the expansion and enrichment of the field of women’s and gender history by making it more inclusive and by constructing bridges between the scholarship produced in and beyond the region. In addition they make it possible to challenge and deconstruct widespread notions about the ‘otherness’ and/ or ‘backwardness’ of the region by allowing us to expand our knowledge of a part of Europe that has a complex, though little known, gender and women’s history, and to situate these histories within broader contexts. A number of items included in this volume, not only articles but also book reviews and contributions to the Forum and News and Miscellanea, take up the challenges of deconstructing superficial notions about the region and of offering comparative perspectives.