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Illness, Metaphor, and Bells

Campanology under COVID-19

Remi Chiu

Throughout 2020 and 2021, bells have rung in a variety of COVID-related rituals in the West, ranging from large-scale religious and civic rites, to ad hoc neighborhood and hospital initiatives, to anti-racist memorials that simultaneously spoke to the health crisis at hand. Taking stock of how these COVID bell-ringing rituals were formalized, their structures and actions, and the historical precedents from which they drew their meanings, this article investigates what the sounds of bells and the rituals of bell-ringing communicated about COVID, how they shaped our personal and collective experiences of the crisis, and what functions they were expected to serve during this liminal period. It reveals how, owing to the historical polysemy of bells on the one hand and the social uncertainties of living with COVID on the other, those rituals generated vivid symbolisms and mobilized powerful emotions that sometimes brought about unintended consequences.

Open access

Isidora Grubački

This contribution is a translation of a speech given by the president of the Yugoslav Feminist Alliance, Alojzija Štebi, to the second conference of the Little Entente of Women (LEW) in Belgrade in 1924. The introduction contextualizes the source, introduces Alojzija Štebi through a biographical note, and offers a glimpse into Yugoslav women’s participation in the Little Entente of Women. It shows that Štebi’s conceptualization of feminism was inseparable from politics, called for political reform, and invited the members of the LEW to move toward the full-scale participation of women in politics and state affairs.

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Between Science and Utopia

Physical and Astronomical Notions within French and Polish Fourierism

Piotr Kuligowski and Quentin Schwanck

Abstract

This article investigates the role of physical and astronomical notions in the formation process of transnational political ideologies. It does so by focusing on the striking example of nineteenth-century early socialist movements, particularly Fourierism. Indeed, Fourier's bold cosmogony enabled him to connect many fields of knowledge, and soon became a powerful vehicle for his ideas on the international scale. The article likewise analyses the ideological process through which Fourierist astronomical conceptions were adopted by foreign socialists, focusing on examples of Polish thinkers such as Jan Czyński and Stanisław Bratkowski who, in drawing on Fourierist ideas and usage of scientific terms, tried to embed his vocabulary in the ongoing nineteenth-century debates about Polish history and, more generally, the burning issue of the independence of the Polish state. Our comparative analysis highlights the contextual influences which contributed to re-shaping such ideas within a new absorbing context.

Open access

Between Transnational Cooperation and Nationalism

The Little Entente of Women in Czechoslovakia

Gabriela Dudeková Kováčová

Focusing on the involvement of feminist activist women from Czechoslovakia in the Little Entente of Women (LEW), this article examines the ideological and political limits of transnational cooperation within such an international organization, one that aimed to promote women’s rights and pacifism in Central and Eastern Europe. The case of Czechoslovakia suggests that deep, ideological divisions between liberal feminist and conservative nationalist threads within the LEW’s national branch seriously undermined eff orts at unity and “global sisterhood” on the international level. It became possible to overcome ideological and political differences in the 1920s without questioning the very existence of the LEW. However, the antirevisionist political agenda of states involved in the LEW was a decisive factor in its reorganization. This article characterizes the rather limited impact of the LEW’s activities in Czechoslovakia and presents new details on its reorganization in the 1930s.

Open access

Between Tyranny and Self-Interest

Why Neo-republicanism Disregards Natural Rights

David Guerrero and Julio Martínez-Cava Aguilar

The first contribution of this article is a politico-philosophical map that, drawing upon two common sets of arguments against modern natural rights, might help to explain the prevailing neo-republican position on natural rights. Under the label ‘abstraction argument’, we explore the view that natural rights are a metaphysical construct that usually ends in a violent application of speculative principles to society. Under ‘self-interest argument’, we discuss the notion that natural rights endorse an atomistic and selfish conception of the human being. Second, we show how Cold War authors replicated these two arguments, conveying a biased, largely anti-republican and anti-democratic view of natural rights to the twentieth century. Third, drawing on these two arguments, we critically assess the narrow view of natural rights inherited by neo-republican scholars.

Open access

Birgitta Bader-Zaar, Evguenia Davidova, Minja Bujaković, Milena Kirova, Malgorzata Fidelis, Stefano Petrungaro, Alexandra Talavar, Daniela Koleva, Rochelle Ruthchild, Vania Ivanova, Valentina Mitkova, Roxana L. Cazan, Sylwia Kuźma-Markowska, and Nadia Danova

Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics 4, no. 2, “East European Feminisms, Part 1: The History of East European Feminisms,” eds. Maria Bucur and Krassimira Daskalova, 2020.

Maria Bucur, The Nation’s Gratitude: World War I and Citizenship Rights in Interwar Romania, London: Routledge, 2022, vi–viii, 231 pp., $160.00 (hardback), $48.95 (ebook), ISBN: 978-0-367-74978-1.

Sanja Ćopić and Zorana Antonijević, eds., Feminizam, aktivizam, politike: Proizvodnja znanja na poluperiferiji. Zbornik radova u čast Marine Blagojević Hughson (Feminism, activism, politics: Knowledge production in the semiperiphery. Collection in honor of Marina Blagojević Hughson), Belgrade: Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research (IKSI), 2021, 621 pp., ISBN: 978-86-80756-42-4.

Krassimira Daskalova, Zhorzheta Nazarska, and Reneta Roshkeva, eds., Ot siankata na istoriata: Zhenite v bulgarskoto obshtestvo i kultura, volume 2, Izvori za istoriana na zhenite: Dnevnitsi, spomeni, pisma, beletristika (From the shadows of history: Women in Bulgarian society and culture, volume 2, Sources of women’s history: diaries, memoirs, letters, fiction), Sofi a: Sofi a University Press, 2021, 621 pp., BGN 30 (paperback), ISBN: 978-954-07-5180-1.

Melissa Feinberg, Communism in Eastern Europe, New York: Routledge, 2022, 229 pp., $44.75 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-8133-4817-9.

Fabio Giomi, Making Muslim Women European: Voluntary Associations, Gender, and Islam in Post-Ottoman Bosnia and Yugoslavia (1878–1941), Budapest: CEU Press, 2021, 420 pp., €88.00 (hardback), ISBN 978-963-386-369-5.

Yulia Gradskova, The Women’s International Democratic Federation, the Global South and the Cold War: Defending the Rights of Women of the “Whole World”? London: Routledge, 2020, 222 pp. £29.59 (e-book), ISBN: 9781003050032.

Dagmar Gramshammer-Hohl and Oana Hergenröther, eds., Foreign Countries of Old Age: East and Southeast European Perspectives on Aging, Aging Studies, vol. 19, Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2021, 386 pp., €45 (paperback), ISBN: 978-3-8376-4554-5.

Wendy Z. Goldman and Donald Filtzer, Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Home Front During World War II, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021, 528 pp., $34.95 (hardback), ISBN: 9780190618414.

Oksana Kis, Survival as Victory: Ukrainian Women in the Gulag, Harvard Series in Ukrainian Studies, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2021, 652 pp., 78 color photos, 10 photos, €84.50 (hardback), ISBN: 9780674258280.

Yelena Lembersky and Galina Lembersky, Like a Drop of Ink in a Downpour: Memories of Soviet Russia, Boston: Cherry Orchard Books, 2022, 247 pp., $17.19 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-64469-669-9.

Mihaela Miroiu, Povestiri despre Cadmav (Stories about Cadmav), Bucharest: Rocart, 2021, 270 pp., RON 31.00 (paperback), ISBN: 978-606-95093-0-2.

Mie Nakachi, Replacing the Dead: The Politics of Reproduction in the Postwar Soviet Union, New York: Oxford University Press, 2021, 352 pp., $39.95 (hardcover), ISBN: 978-0190635138.

Olga Todorova, Domashnoto robstvo i robovladenie v osmanska Rumelia (Domestic slavery and slave ownership in Ottoman Rumelia), Sofia: Gutenberg, 2021, 444 pp., BGN 30 (paperback), ISBN: 978-619-176-195-1.

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Concepts, Beliefs, and Their Constellations

A Proposal for Analytical Categories in the Study of Human Thought

Ilkka Kärrylä

The article argues that all disciplines examining human thought could use certain shared analytical categories. This would not mean eradicating all differences between various approaches such as intellectual history and discourse analysis, but acknowledging that they are examining partly the same basic entities. The article argues that ideational entities in human thought could be understood as concepts, beliefs, and their constellations. The article discusses the views of scholars who have theorized similar categories and shows how these can be studied through historical language use. Shared analytical categories would enhance interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars of human thought and allow more rigorous debates on issues that truly divide different disciplines, such as the explanatory values of human agency and structures.

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Continuing Formalization of Coalition Formation with a New “Sound”

Negotiating the Coalition Contract after the 2021 Bundestag Election

Sven T. Siefken

Getting a new government together in Germany requires building a coalition. The process for doing so has evolved, becoming more institutionalized but remaining part of informal politics. Looking closely at the coalition building in 2021 shows that its organizational structure was vertically slimmer and horizontally more differentiated than in previous years. The role of parliamentary actors was more pronounced than before, and parliamentary organization was mirrored throughout it. Yet the strong inclusion of the Länder (party) perspectives prevailed, making coalition building a multi-level task. While the process in 2021 had more procedural transparency than before, its content remained largely out of public sight. At defined steps, party approval was gathered through formal votes. Whether the established account of better personal trust among the involved partners is more than a nice narrative remains to be seen in the analysis of the coalition’s governing practice.

Open access

Marina Soroka

The infrequent publications about women’s agency in European diplomacy have concerned themselves with either the early modern age or the post-World War I period, but women remain virtually absent from the diplomatic history of the long nineteenth century. To determine their place in the European political world of this period, this article examines the experiences of four Russian diplomats’ wives. The biographical approach reveals contradictions in patriarchal discourse: it required a diplomat’s wife to be worthy of her role as a representative of the Russian Empire, yet effectively dismissed her from politics. From this another contradiction ensued: as a diplomat’s wife played no political role, the ministry turned a blind eye if her actions challenged traditional social and gender norms, even when such actions led to the neglect of her duties as her husband’s helpmeet.

Free access

Sharon A. Kowalsky

As I prepare this volume’s introduction, we are well into the third month of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Aspasia editorial board joins the leaders of multiple scholarly organizations around the world in condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s devastating attack not only on the Ukrainian people and their culture, but also on the very principles of national self-determination. As historians of and in the region, we particularly condemn the misinterpretations, distortions, and simplifications of Russian and Ukrainian history in the context of the current conflict. Such misinformation actively undermines open dialogue, democracy, and democratic regimes everywhere. In addition, we are deeply troubled by the growing militarization of our region that this war has legitimized. As women’s and gender historians, we understand the consequences that ensue when military values and practices overshadow civilian ones, and the implications that result from propaganda, censorship, and the militarizing of society, particularly regarding violence toward women. We are also only just beginning to conceive of the long-term implications of the war in Ukraine for scholars and scholarship in our region. Beyond concerns for the immediate personal safety of individual scholars and colleagues, we are facing the probable destruction and loss of significant Ukrainian archival and other sources on all aspects of Ukrainian history. The probable impact on future research in our field is catastrophic and will require us to reconsider our research priorities, goals, and methods. At the same time, the war has added urgency to a growing recognition of the need to “decolonize” scholarship and to confront ethnocentrism—to move away from a traditionally Russocentric focus, to better recognize the complexities of the historical experiences in the region, and to place such experiences in their broader historical contexts, offering a more complete, nuanced, and holistic analysis to undermine simplistic, nationalistic, and distorted narratives. As the war in Ukraine amplifies calls for such a reorientation for the field, these shifts reinforce and complement the mission of Aspasia as a forum for the multiplicity of voices that speak in and about the region, on all topics related to women’s and gender history.