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Daughters of Two Empires

Muslim Women and Public Writing in Habsburg Bosnia and Herzegovina (1878–1918)

Fabio Giomi

This article focuses on the public writings of Muslim women in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Habsburg period. From the beginning of the twentieth century, several Muslim women, mainly schoolgirls and teachers at Sarajevo's Muslim Female School, started for the first time to write for Bosnian literary journals, using the Serbo-Croatian language written in Latin or Cyrillic scripts. Before the beginning of World War I, a dozen Muslim women explored different literary genres—the poem, novel, and social commentary essay. In the context of the expectations of a growing Muslim intelligentsia educated in Habsburg schools and of the anxieties of the vast majority of the Muslim population, Muslim women contested late Ottoman gender norms and explored, albeit timidly, new forms of sisterhood, thus making an original contribution to the construction of a Bosnian, post-Ottoman public sphere.

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Francisca de Haan

The years 1917 and 1918 witnessed the end of the Russian, German, Habsburg, and Ottoman empires, with huge consequences for European and global history. Yet despite the obvious importance of empires to the history of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, gendered imperialism—especially within Eastern Europe—has received little attention from scholars. The theme section included here, “Rethinking Empire from Eastern Europe,” for which Susan Zimmermann served as guest editor, aims to begin addressing this omission.

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Gendering Balkanisms

Gender, Culture, and Class in Nineteenth-Century Women's Travelogues in the Balkans

Marina Matešić

This article links nineteenth-century travelogues about the Balkans written by European women travelers—Dora d'Istria, Maria Karlova, Emily Strangford, and Paulina Irby and Georgina Mackenzie—both to a broader historical discourse called Balkanism and to the socio-historical contexts of the authors themselves. It examines the ways in which these texts adopted existing hegemonic dichotomies of Balkanism concerning culture, ethnicity/religion, and gender and whether they set new paths for Balkanist discourse. Written during the time of anti-Ottoman uprisings and nation-building movements, the travelogues expressed diverse humanitarian, Christian, feminist, anti-imperial/Turkish and other agendas and discussed the crucial role of (Balkan) women in it. Through a particular focus on domestic life and the lives of women, these women travelers also spoke of their own position in society, bringing to light their struggle for equality in traveling, writing, and participating in broader political and social life, and in that way disturbed the male-centered Balkanist discourse.

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Report on the International Women's Congress, 17 December 1948

(Jelentés a Nemzetközi Nőkongresszusról, 1948. December 17)

Éva Cserháti

Source translated and discussed: Report on the International Women’s Congress (Jelentés a Nemzetközi Nőkongresszusról), discussed by the Organizing Committee of the Magyar Dolgozók Pártja (Hungarian Working People’s Party, MDP) on 17 December 1948, National Archives of Hungary (Magyar Országos Levéltár, MOL), Documents of the MDP and the MSzMP, section M-KS, fond 276, group 55, unit 49, pp 20–24, typed.1

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Natalia Jarska

This article focuses on gender relations and industrialization in the Stalinist and post-Stalinist period in Poland. Taking the example of a newly built metal factory in Kraśnik and its female workers, it shows the importance of local conditions for the process of the “productivization” of women. The article argues that in rural areas the access of women to the factory generated less conflict than in the urban milieu. The plant employed a great number of female workers in nearly every position—not as a result of any special “productivization” policy, but because women sought to work there. Women in Kraśnik did not see a conflict between their identities as women and wage work, including that in occupations traditionally dominated by men. In the course of de-Stalinization, the gender division of work became more important in shaping the employment policy of the factory. This article demonstrates how gender ideologies specific to peasant and workers' culture interacted in the process of industrialization.

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Secret Years

Hungarian Lesbian Herstory, 1950s–2000s

Anna Borgos

The article explores the personal narratives of middle-aged and elderly Hungarian lesbian women based on oral history interviews. The stories open a window into the Kádár era from a special perspective, allowing us to get a glimpse into the women's self-recognition and coming out process; their different (sexual, professional or maternal) identities, relationships, informal social scenes, and communities; their thinking about gender roles, as well as the available representations of lesbians over the decades. The women also discuss the freedom and greater visibility—as complex as it was—that came after the democratic transition. The article contributes more detailed knowledge about the situation of LGBT people in the region during the state socialist period and around the 1989 regime change.

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Jill Massino

Dagmar Herzog, Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 238 pp., $28.99 (pb), ISBN 978-0-52169-143-7.

Josie McLellan, Love in the Time of Communism: Intimacy and Sexuality in the GDR, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 239 pp., $29.99 (pb), ISBN 978-0-2172-761-7.

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Krassimira Daskalova and Karen Offen

Sources translated and discussed: Vela Blagoeva, “Klasovo suznanie i feminism” (Class consciousness and feminism), Zhenski trud (Women’s labor) 1, no. 2 (1904–1905): 1–2; [Ana Karima], “Nie” (We), Ravnopravie (Equal rights) 1, no. 1 (November 1908): 1–2; [A. Karima], “Vnasiame li nie raztseplenie” (Do we divide the Union?) Ravnopravie 1, no. 3 (1908): 1–2.

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War, Memory, and Punishment in Russia

Two Heldt Prize Winners

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

Judith Pallot and Laura Piacentini, with the assistance of Dominique Moran, Gender, Geography, and Punishment: The Experience of Women in Carceral Russia, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 290 pp., $99.00 (hb), ISBN 978-0-19965-861-9.

Karen Petrone, The Great War in Russian Memory, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011, 385 pp., $39.95 (hb), ISBN 978-0-25335-617-8.

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Writing Women's Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography

An International Symposium, 19–20 April 2014, Istanbul

Francisca de Haan

The Istanbul Women’s Library and Information Center Foundation, on occasion of its twenty-fourth anniversary, together with Yeditepe University organized the international symposium “Writing Women’s Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography,” which took place at Yeditepe University on 19–20 April 2014.

The symposium coordinators were Birsen Talay Keşoğlu, Vehbi Baysan, and Şefik Peksevgen, assisted by eleven more members of the Organizing Committee, including Aslı Davaz, director of the Istanbul Women’s Library.