This essay presents a historical analysis of Hungarian women's movements from the late eighteenth century until recent years. As women's organising in Hungary responded to both internal and international economic and political forces, it also revealed four sets of connections across the diverse historical landscape. First, these groups have framed their political aims to achieve greater legitimacy by selectively emphasising their international connections. The second parallel is the particularly harsh treatment women's groups have received when the dominant ideology changed. Third, in response to this treatment and for sheer self-preservation, women activists re-framed contemporary events and re-interpreted history in general and women's history in particular to strengthen their sense of identity and self-justification. The fourth common feature is the often difficult relationship between women's groups and the state. These four features potentially counterbalanced the many disagreements among women's groups over what they perceive to be women's appropriate roles and the definition of feminism, and persistently led to women's mobilisation and actions. Controversies around feminism ignite and fundamentally influence how and why women's groups become implicated in politics. Looking at the case of Eastern Europe, and especially focusing on Hungary, this essay argues that feminism has helped to establish much common ground among activists.
The Formation of Women's Groups in Hungary
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