Soon after the collapse of communism, women's rights and gender equality became hotly debated issues in Poland, particularly as they were linked to different interpretations of what the transition to democracy ought to mean. In the context of conservative arguments linking Poland's “return to normalcy” with a return to traditional gender roles and relating feminism to the “foreign” socialist order, women's NGOs and networks in Warsaw started to creatively re-frame their arguments within the terms of Polish tradition. At the same time EUropeanization of gender discourses provided another contested register in which women's rights activists had to negotiate their claims. This article explores how concepts of gender and feminism in Poland have become objects, as much as effects, of powerful political debates, describing a discursive field where national self-understandings and values are negotiated in the context of transition and EU accession. It provides an ethnographic account of the central role played by notions of gender and feminism in imaging democratic citizenship and in producing new subject positions in postsocialist Poland.
Who Embodies europe? Explorations into the Construction of european Bodies
Anika Keinz and Paweł Lewicki
In this special issue we focus on processes of europeanisation and the work of colonial legacies and their impact on the production of the european body, a body that is always already racialised, classed and gendered. ‘european body’ can be observed in discourses and practices that constitute the normal/desired/legitimate body and concomitantly impacts notions about the civilised/cultured body, often linked to whiteness, secularism, legitimate class and gender performances. We ask to look back across pasts and into the present in order to explore who currently marks the boundaries of what is considered civilised, cultured, “normal” and comes to define what is considered a european body. What embodies the present, which and whose body epitomises europeaness and how does europeanisation generate (tacit) knowledge about the legitimate body?