This article questions the claim that in Romania, the post-1990 period was one of radically greater freedom in religious matters, as well as greater religiosity on the part of the population. Instead, it suggests that continuity be er encapsulates the development of religiosity—religious beliefs and their embodiment in specific practices— among Orthodox Christians in Romania in the twentieth century. It also makes visible important imbalances, gaps, and faulty assumptions about the importance of institutions in the daily religious practices and beliefs of most Orthodox populations in the historiography on Orthodoxy in Romania. Scholars have failed to see continuities and have embraced analytical frameworks that stress change, especially around the communist takeover period (1945–1949) and the fall of communism (1989–1990). Central to re-evaluating this trajectory are two aspects of Orthodoxy in Romania: (1) most believers live in the countryside; and (2) women have remained central to the development and maintenance of religious practices in ways that cannot be accounted for through any institutional analysis of the Orthodox Church, because of its both implicit and explicit misogyny.
Continuity and Change, 1945–1989
Lamenting and Photographing the Dead in Serbia, 1914–1941
This article is part of a larger research project on the political, cultural, and social implications of interwar Yugoslavia’s remembrance and mourning of its war dead. Es- chewing a focus on state-centered commemorative practices, this article focuses on two types of sources, laments of Serbian women and photographs by Serbian military photographers, as entry points into understanding the private, cultural, and religious arenas of Serbian wartime and interwar remembrances. Drawing on research examining the political uses of lament and grief, the article considers the role Serbian women played in controlling and directing the “passion of grief and anger” within their communities as they remembered the dead. The photographic evidence reveals that traditional death rituals and laments were performed and that these rituals were significant socio-political spaces where women, families, and communities of soldiers advanced claims for recognition of their wartime experiences and memories. However, the photographs themselves are sites of memory and this article examines how military photographers, acting on behalf of the state, sought to control the representation of grief and by doing so politicized and secularized the way grief was expressed. Placing these sources side by side illustrates the intermingling of forms of mourning and remembrance that existed not only in the Balkans, but also in many other communities throughout Europe, especially among its rural inhabitants.
Richard Stites (1931–2010)
Rochelle Ruthchild Goldberg
Richard Stites (2 December 1931–7 March 2010), a pioneer in gender history, took on “unfashionable” themes, researched them diligently, produced imaginative, fascinating monographs, and made his subjects fashionable. He died of cancer in his be- loved Helsinki while on research leave, and is buried near the city’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
The Subversive Performances of Tanja Ostojić
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.
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.
Tobacco, Alcohol, and the Gender of Sacred and Secular Restraint in Bulgaria, 1856-1939
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.
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.
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.
Case Studies from Southeastern Europe
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.
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.