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Women’s Rights and Sovereignty/Autonomy

Negotiating Gender in Indigenous Justice Spaces

Shannon Speed, María Teresa Sierra, Lynn Stephen, Jessica Johnson and Heike Schaumberg

In recent years in both the United States and Latin America, indigenous peoples have taken increasing control over local justice, creating indigenous courts and asserting more autonomy in the administration of justice in their tribes, regions, or communities. New justice spaces, such as the Chickasaw District Courts in Oklahoma and the Zapatista Good Governance Councils in Chiapas, work to resolve conflict based largely on indigenous ‘customs and traditions.’ Many of the cases brought before these local legal bodies are domestic cases that directly involve issues of gender, women’s rights and culture. Yet the relationship between ‘indigenous traditions’ and women’s rights has been a fraught one. This forum article considers how these courts emerged in the context of neoliberalism and whether they provide new venues for indigenous women to pursue their rights and to challenge gendered social norms or practices that they find oppressive.

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Engaging with an Invisible Politics

Gender Mainstreaming as a Practice in Newfoundland and Labrador

Glynis George

This article examines the way feminists engage with gender mainstreaming in their attempt to transform gender inequalities in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province on Canada's east coast. It employs an anthropological perspective to explore one aspect of gender mainstreaming, namely the way gender analysis models are deployed in specific encounters, to consider how such equality templates can both reproduce and challenge pre-existing social relations. I argue that a feminist practice approach in anthropology, in particular its reflexive and practice orientation, can foreground the way gender models are actually implemented and interpreted. Through this analysis I argue that gender mainstreaming at this point reproduces wider relations of power - governmental and normative - and cannot yet accommodate preexisting social cleavages in the province.

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Ebola and Accusation

Gender Dimensions of Stigma in Sierra Leone’s Ebola Response

Olive Melissa Minor

As Response and Resilience Team Anthropologist for Oxfam GB, my role was to support an inclusive, community-led Ebola response through a better understanding of gender dynamics in the context of the outbreak. This case study identified stigma and blame of affected people as key factors in the ongoing epidemic. Despite social mobilisation efforts to address these attitudes, they remained ingrained in the Ebola response at multiple levels: in Government of Sierra Leone quarantine policies, in community by-laws and in everyday social interactions. Negative attitudes put pressure on the roles of men and women in ways that produced barriers to acting on Ebola prevention and treatment advice or creating an inclusive Ebola response. Our findings prompted several improvements in Ebola response activities that Oxfam Sierra Leone carried forward in their work, demonstrating the key role applied anthropology can play in creating a reflexive process to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian aid.

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A Gloomy Carnival of Freedom

Sex, Gender, and Emotions among Polish Displaced Person in the Aftermath of World War II

Katarzyna Nowak

This article investigates the experiences of Polish Displaced Persons (DPs) through the lens of sexuality, analyzing their perceptions of liberation and life in DP camps in Allied-occupied Germany and Austria (1945–1951). It draws on a wide array of sources, including archival material, memoirs, and letters. Employing Mikhail Bakhtin’s concepts of carnival and the carnivalesque, it argues that the dynamics of DPs’ sexual and romantic encounters, analyzed as emotional experiences, can be characterized as having a carnivalesque structure of oppression, eruption, and normalization. It demonstrates how the eruption of sexuality (including sexual violence) was connected to the wider problems Poles faced, including feelings of emasculation, war trauma, and the challenges of rebuilding a community in exile. Polish elites, acting mostly within a Catholic conservative register, boosted normalization by combatting perceived “immorality” and promoting family values. To this end, they cooperated with international organizations and the Allied military in an attempt to contain venereal disease, prostitution, and abortion. Many of these efforts focused on policing women’s bodies and regulating their sexuality, as a part of rebuilding the nation after the hecatomb of war.

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Katherine Weikert and Elena Woodacre

In January 2014, the University of Winchester hosted the Gender and Medieval Studies conference. Held sporadically since the late 1980s and, for the most part, annually in the last fifteen years, the conference series is dedicated to the study of gender in the Middle Ages. In 2014 at Winchester, the topic for discussion was “gender and status.” This topic was specifically chosen for the potential fruitfulness of the idea: gender and status could encompass ideas such as social status, employment, figures of authority, marital status, legal issues, and could potentially suit any academic discipline or geographic context. The 2014 conference welcomed more than ninety scholars from throughout Europe and North America speaking on topics ranging from medieval gynecology to clerical masculinity. As the conference organizers noted, the large number of scholars attending and speaking on gender and status in the medieval world might indicate larger trends in medieval scholarship: that studying gender in the medieval world was no longer a niche subject, but part of the wider landscape of not just medieval studies but scholarship in general.

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Feminism and Development

Building the Discipline or Politicising It?

David Lempert

Although initial contributions of Women's Studies to the field of Development Studies were to question existing concepts and assumptions and to offer new models and inclusive approaches, it appears that contemporary scholarship has shifted entirely (and even unapologetically) into political advocacy with little further in the way of social science or fresh critique and modelling. In Development Studies, Applied Anthropology and possibly in other subfields where gender concerns are presented in 'single-variable' or 'interest-group' perspectives, it may now be time to return to earlier goals through a depoliticisation of 'Feminist' and 'Women's' Studies, appropriately integrating 'Gender Studies' and concerns into subfields in ways that promote holistic advance of those fields. The essay uses two recent books with alternative examinations of feminism in developing societies – one on the area of 'development' and one on relations of two 'developed' countries, the U.S. and Russia – as springboards for a discussion of what has gone wrong and what can be changed in the sub-field of gender and Development Studies.

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Introduction

Women, Gender, Law, and Remembering Shona Kelly Wray

Linda E. Mitchell

This special issue combines articles derived from the same GMS conference held at Winchester in January 2014—this time focusing on issues of women, gender, and law—and articles derived from a meeting of the Mid- America Medieval Association (MAMA) held at the University of Missouri– Kansas City (UMKC) in April 2013, which was dedicated to the memory of the late Shona Kelly Wray, associate professor of history at UMKC, whose untimely and tragic death had occurred in the previous May.

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Introduction

Autonomous Driving and the Transformation of Car Cultures

Jutta Weber and Fabian Kröger

This special section on “Degendering the Driver” explores how gender intervenes in the potential shift from a driver-centered to a driverless car culture. It focuses on representations of imagined futures—prototypes, media images, and popular discourses of driverless cars. Following the tradition of feminist cultural studies of technoscience, we ask in our introduction how these new techno-imaginaries of autonomous driving are gendered and racialized. We aim to explore if the future user of an autonomous car is gendered or degendered in the current media discourse. The four articles explore what kinds of images are used, what promises are made, and how the discourse about autonomous driving is influenced by gendered norms. Some authors emphasize that self-driving vehicles could encourage pluralized forms of masculinity. Nonetheless, all authors conclude that driverless cars alone will not degender the driver but rather encourage a multiplication of gendered and racialized technologies of mobility.

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Introduction

Postcolonial studies and postsocialism in Eastern Europe

Jill Owczarzak

The introduction to this special section explores the ways in which postcolonial studies contribute a deeper understanding of postsocialist change in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the collapse of socialism, anthropological and other social science studies of Eastern Europe have highlighted deep divides between “East” and “West” and drawn attention to the ways in which socialist practices persist into the postsocialist period. We seek to move beyond discourses of the East/West divide by examining the postsocialist context through the lens of postcolonial studies. We look at four aspects of postcolonial studies and explore their relevance for understanding postsocialist Eastern Europe: orientalism, nation and identity, hybridity, and voice. These themes are particular salient from the perspective of gender and sexuality, key concepts through which both postcolonialism and postsocialism can be understood. We thus pay particular attention to the exchange of ideas between East/West, local/global, and national/international arenas.

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Report from the Region

The “Anti-Gender” Wave Contested: Gender Studies, Civil Society, and the State in Eastern Europe and Beyond*

On 12 October 2018, without any public statement or explanation, the responsible Hungarian authorities removed the two-year MA degree program in gender studies, first accredited in Hungary in 2007 and overhauled in 2016, from the list of approved study programs. (Students currently enrolled in any such master’s degree at any university in the country can finish their course of studies as usual.) For the MA degree program in gender studies established in 2017 at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, a state university and the largest university in terms of student numbers in the country, this equals abolition. For the two-year MA program in critical gender studies at Central European University (CEU) it means the loss of Hungarian accreditation, by which the degree was formally recognized in the European Union. This combines with the fact that CEU has lost the right to enroll new students into its US programs operated in Hungary, and more generally to operate in Hungary as an American institution (though this still is subject to legal encounters). Already in March 2017, at the time when the higher education reform was announced that would result in making CEU’s continued operation in Hungary impossible, the government discussed a report on “a number of questions of the gender studies MA degree,” and representatives of the small Catholic coalition partner of the government led by Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz/Hungarian Civic Alliance, the Christian Democratic People’s Party, publicly denied the legitimacy of gender studies as an academic subject.