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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.

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.

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.

Open access

Feminisms and Politics in the Interwar Period

The Little Entente of Women (1923–1938)

Katerina Dalakoura

The primary goals of the Little Entente of Women were to hammer out a common agenda and joint strategies for the promotion of women’s demands in the respective countries, and to create favorable conditions for socioeconomic, cultural, and political cooperation among the member states. This article addresses the latter goal of the LEW, based on the position that its objectives were deeply political, interwoven with contemporary political challenges in the region, and intersected with the foreign affairs policies of the associated countries. To support this position, the article explores the historical and political circumstances at the foundation of the LEW, the entanglements of its feminist strategies with regional diplomacy and politics and, lastly, focusing on the “Greek case,” the relationship between the foreign policy of the Greek state and the political initiatives of the Greek LEW member.

Open access

Freedom, Autonomy, and (Inter)dependency

Feminist Dialogues and Republican Debates on Democracy

Ailynn Torres Santana

This article starts from the analytical disconnection between feminisms and republicanism and investigates the potential of an academic and political conversation between them. The text takes up some of the intersections between feminism and republicanism over the past few decades and draws attention to the greater interest that has been verified recently. Furthermore, the article proposes spaces where potential conversation between feminism and republicanism can take place: examining the relationship between material dispossession, dependence, and freedom; across the public, private, and domestic spheres; and the implications of extending autonomy to consider bodily autonomy. It ends with a brief reference to political participation as a feminist and republican virtue. Finally, the article stresses the need to produce a republican feminist revival.

Open access

From Neo-Republicanism to Socialist Republicanism

Antonio Gramsci, the European Council Movements and the ‘Second Republican Revival’

Andreas Møller Mulvad and Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen

This article engages with socialist republicanism, which is preoccupied with extending freedom as non-domination, central to the neo-republican revival, from the political sphere of formal democracy to the economic sphere of capitalist production. Firstly, we discuss the transition from neo-republicanism to socialist republicanism. Secondly, we reconstruct the socialist republicanism of Antonio Gramsci, who was involved in the council movements in Turin in 1919–20. We argue that Gramsci applies the republican vocabulary of servitude to describe the capitalist workplace and analyse the workers’ councils as republican forms, allowing for popular self-determination in the economic sphere. Consequently, we contribute to the ongoing exploration of the historical, political, and conceptual affinities between republicanism and socialism and inscribe Gramsci as a key thinker in this endeavour.