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Open access

It's Complicated

The History of Sexuality in Eastern Europe Flourishes

Maria Bucur

Kristen Ghodsee, Why Women Have Better Sex under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence, New York: Hachette, 2018, 356 pp, $17.99 (paperback), ISBN 9781645036364;

Kateřina Lišková, Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Communist Czechoslovakia and the Science of Desire, 1945–1989, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018, 293 pp, $31.99 (paperback), ISBN 9781108341332;

Agnieszka Kościańska, Gender, Pleasure, and Violence: The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2021, 268 pp, $42.00 (paperback), ISBN 9780253053091;

Agnieszka Kościańska, To See a Moose: The History of Polish Sex Education, New York: Berghahn, 2021, 354 pp, $145.00 (hardback), ISBN 9781800730601;

Anita Kurimay, Queer Budapest, 1871–1961, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020, 336 pp, $32.50 (paperback), ISBN 9780226705798.

Open access

Jovanka Broz and the Yugoslav Popular Press during Tito's Reign

At the Crossroads of Tradition and Emancipation (1952–1980)

Iva Jelušić

Abstract

To gain insight into the desirable characteristics of the Yugoslav New Woman, this article focuses on the country's only first lady, Jovanka Broz. Considering her as the most visible embodiment of modern Yugoslav womanhood, it analyzes portrayals of the first lady in the Yugoslav popular press, considering the interplay of several factors, including her strategy of (self-)representation, but also ideology, the nature of the magazines, and the related expectations of the journalists. Her exceptional social position was variously interpreted. The article finds that the innovative characteristics of the figure of the Yugoslav New Woman were not intentionally utilized to make the first lady into the leading female comrade. Instead, a fusion of traditional and revolutionary interpretations located her at the crossroads of tradition and emancipation.

Open access

The Little Entente of Women as Transnational Ethno-Nationalist Community

Spotlight on Romania

Maria Bucur

Abstract

The founding of the Little Entente of Women (LEW) in 1923 provided new opportunities for feminists from member and aspiring countries to work together toward common goals for women's rights in those states. As they forged transnational bridges and built friendships across borders, the feminists of the LEW articulated a vision of progress deeply rooted in ethno-nationalism and racialized rhetoric. In this article I reflect primarily on the verbal rhetoric and visual symbols used by representatives of these countries in the first two gatherings of the network. Their empathy seems to have extended predominantly to the ethnic majorities represented in the group. Even as they spoke for women in general as a category, many understood each other to be speaking on behalf of specific ethnic and racial groups. The narrowness of this vision undercut the effectiveness of the work the LEW undertook and the goals it aspired to achieve.

Open access

The Little Entente of Women, Feminisms, Tensions, and Entanglements within the Interwar European Women's Movement

Krassimira Daskalova

Abstract

This article discusses some aspects of the interwar women's movements and feminist activities in Eastern Europe and the Balkans in particular, taking as a starting point the creation of the regional feminist network called the Little Entente of Women (LEW). It shows that—despite the idea of “global sisterhood”—women's actions have always been conditioned by the agenda of male political elites. At the same time, the article highlights some entanglements of the feminist activities and initiatives that shattered the (fraternal) social contracts of nation states and, already before World War II, won certain aspects of citizenship rights for women throughout the region of Southeastern Europe.

Open access

Living and Surviving Communism in Albania

Enriketa Papa-Pandelejmoni

Shannon Woodcock, Life is War: Surviving Dictatorship in Communist Albania, Tirana: HammerOnPress, 2016, 238 pp, $22 (paperback), ISBN 1910849030

Margo Rejmer, Mud Sweeter Than Honey: Voices of Communist Albania, translated by Zosia Krasodomska-Jones and Antonia Lloyd-Jones, London: MacLehose Press, 2021, 320 pp, £18.99 (hardback), ISBN 978-1529411461

Open access

Polish-Jewish Female Writers and the Women's Emancipation Movements in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Zuzanna Kołodziejska-Smagała

Abstract

Between 1880 and 1914, a small group of Jewish female authors writing in Polish approached the vital-at-the-time woman question from different angles. Although they incorporated discussions of women's sexuality, for these Polish supporters of women's emancipation, access to education remained the focal point. This article explores the writings of seven Jewish women authors in the historical context of the emerging women's emancipation movements in the Polish lands, demonstrating that their educational aspirations were not always identical to those expressed by Polish emancipationists. By examining the involvement of Polish-Jewish women writers in Polish women's organizations, the article complicates the picture of the Polish suffrage movement and highlights the interconnectedness of Polish and Jewish social history.

Open access

A Radical Democratic Lens to Rejuvenating European Union Democracy Support

Thinking about the Political with a Capital P

Nathan Vandeputte

Abstract

This article intervenes in the debates on reforming EU democracy support by offering a “radical reformist” approach. It departs from the observation that literature lacks a sustained theorization of reform which more effectively considers contestation as the very condition of democracy. As such, in contrast to withdrawing democracy from its contested nature, this article presents a theoretical argument, as informed by Chantal Mouffe's take on radical democracy, through which the EU more democratically can engage with and support the plurality of different contestations of democracy. In particular, a closer engagement with the radical democratic embrace of the political will allow for better reflection on how EU democracy support already is or can become democratic, empowering and receptive to the way democracy is understood locally.

Open access

The Rise of Despotic Majoritarianism

Benjamin Abrams

Abstract

Two maladies that have been incipient in Liberal Democracy since its birth have finally struck at once. The “tyranny of the majority” and “administrative despotism”—first identified by Alexis de Tocqueville almost two centuries ago—have combined in the form of a new, much more threatening democratic mutation. We are witnessing the rise of “despotic majoritarianism,” in which citizens are simultaneously given less and less say in the political process, just as more and more is being done in their name. This new strain of democratic disease threatens not just the United States but societies across Europe, Latin America, and South Asia. This article explores the nature of despotic majoritarianism, its manifestation today, and how we might combat it.

Open access

Televised Election Debates in a Deliberative System

The Role of Framing and Emotions

Emma Turkenburg

Abstract

Are televised election debates (TEDs) a blessing for democracy, educating citizens and informing them of their electoral options? Or should they be viewed as a curse, presenting superficial, manipulating rhetoric in one-way communication? In this article, I evaluate TEDs from a deliberative point of view, focusing on the potential positive and negative outcomes of framing by politicians, as well as on the pros and cons of displaying emotions in debates. I argue that the use of these two rhetorical devices in TEDs is potentially helpful in inspiring deliberation, perspective-taking and subsequent reflection in both politicians and voters. This leads me to conclude that televised election debates should be critically approached as communicative venues with potential deliberative qualities.

Open access

What Can a Political Form of Reconciliation Look Like in Divided Societies?

The Deliberative “Right to Justification” and Agonistic Democracy

Burcu Özçelik

Abstract

Deliberative and agonistic democrats have conceived of political reconciliation and its pursuit in different forms. In this article, I explore how insight can be derived from key tenets of both strands of democratic theory in the struggle to achieve political reconciliation in war-torn or divided contexts. Rather than subsume disagreement or straitjacket it in processes of “rational” deliberation, I propose contingent, open-ended, but inclusive contestation to achieve political reconciliation. This article explores how the deliberative “right to justification,” set out by critical theorist Rainer Forst, can be put to work in an agonistic politics of reconciliation. I want to show that deliberation over the right to justification and the corollary duty to justify constitute conjoined means of consensus-seeking that can be contingent and fluid and can account for entrenched relations of power and inequality—two dynamics that deliberative theorists have been accused of deflecting or obscuring.