This article is an attempt to shed more light on the topic of state socialist feminism in Eastern Europe by focusing on part of the biography of one of the most visible women’s activists and political functionaries in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe after 1944, Tsola Dragoicheva. It should be considered as a contribution to the ongoing debate regarding the character of state socialist measures toward women and the “gender contract” in the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe between 1944 and 1989. It does not pretend, however, to cover and evaluate Dragoicheva’s entire life (or to agree with everything she did) or to create an exhaustive picture of state socialist measures toward women in Bulgaria (nor does it underestimate the significance of structured gender inequalities, which often remain unnoticed); rather, it discusses some facts and procedures dealing with “women’s issues” that researchers have only vaguely covered so far. The study is based on various archival materials from Bulgarian and international archives, and on the periodical press from the period under consideration, oral history interviews, and scholarly publications relevant to this topic. It is part of an ongoing project on Gendering Balkan Nation-States.
From Biography to History
Mihaela Miroiu argues that there was/is ‘a deep incompatibility between feminism and communism’ and that the proclaimed communist measures of gender equality were not feminist in intention and meaning. She insists also that one should differentiate between feminism as an ideal and feminism as ideology. Miroiu further claims that, even if there were some individual feminist gestures under ‘communism’, they didn’t have political consequences.
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.
Francisca de Haan, Maria Bucur and Krassimira Daskalova
This is the third volume of Aspasia, with a focus on the gender history of everyday life. The questions in which we were interested included: How have broad institutional frameworks – religious, social, economic, political, and cultural – related to the ways in which average women and men negotiated their gender identities, and, vice versa, how have (changes in) gender identities and relations influenced broader institutional frameworks? Our call for papers also asked more specific questions: How have assumptions of religious institutions about gender norms shaped the everyday religious practices and spirituality of laywomen and men? How have sexual norms impacted how women and men perform and negotiate their sexual identity in their daily lives? What changes did state socialism bring to women’s and men’s gender identities and daily lives, and how did that change over time?
Francisca de Haan, Maria Bucur and Krassimira Daskalova
This is the fourth volume of Aspasia, an international peer-reviewed yearbook, the aim of which is to provide a forum for the best scholarship in the field of interdisciplinary women’s and gender history of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The articles published in Aspasia contribute to the expansion and enrichment of the field of women’s and gender history by making it more inclusive and by constructing bridges between the scholarship produced in and beyond the region. In addition they make it possible to challenge and deconstruct widespread notions about the ‘otherness’ and/ or ‘backwardness’ of the region by allowing us to expand our knowledge of a part of Europe that has a complex, though little known, gender and women’s history, and to situate these histories within broader contexts. A number of items included in this volume, not only articles but also book reviews and contributions to the Forum and News and Miscellanea, take up the challenges of deconstructing superficial notions about the region and of offering comparative perspectives.
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.
Ayse Durakbasa, Raluca Maria Popa, Ralitsa Muharska, Nadya Radulova and Krassimira Daskalova
Serpil Çakır, Osmanlı Kadın Hareketi [The Ottoman women’s movement], Istanbul: Metis, 1994, second edition 1996; 350 pp. (pb) 13,20 YTL. ISBN: 975-342-044-7
Krassimira Daskalova ed., Voices of Their Own. Oral History Interviews of Women, trans. Ralitsa Muharska and Elitsa Stoitsova, Sofia: Polis Publishers, 2004, 207 pp. (pb). ISBN 954-796-008-3
Kristen Ghodsee, Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism, and Postsocialism on the Black Sea, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2005, 174 pp., 2 appendices, $74.95 (cloth). ISBN cloth 0-8223-3650-2; $21.95 (pb). ISBN 0-8223-3662-6
Irina Novikova and Dimitar Kambourov, eds., Men in the Global World: Integrating Post-Socialist Perspectives, Helsinki: Kikimora Publications, 2003, 250 pp. (pb). ISBN 952-10-1308-7
Olga Todorova, Zhenite ot tsentralnite Balkani prez osmanskata epoha (XV–XVII vek). (Women of the Central Balkans during the early centuries of Ottoman Rule [fifteenth-seventeenth Centuries]). Sofia: Gutenberg, 2004, 515 pp., 12 BGL (pb). ISBN954-9943-85-2
Krassimira Daskalova, Maria Bucur, Ivana Pantelić, Biljana Dojčinović, Gabriela Dudeková, Sabina Žnidaršič Žagar, Nina Vodopivec, Şirin Tekeli and Oksana Kis
After publishing a two-part Forum about women’s and gender studies in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) in Aspasia (vols. 4 and 5), this and the next issue of Aspasia will host a Forum about the “state of the art” of women’s and gender history in the same region. Women’s history as we know it as an academic discipline appeared in Western countries in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Many practitioners in this period came from social history and/or were influenced by the overall progressive political climate of the 1960s and 1970s. Another important characteristic of the earlier period is that women’s history was one of the forerunners in women’s studies. But as important as this period was for the formation of our field, in many countries around the world women’s history is much older and was practiced by women and men in many different contexts and different ways, as the work of both Western—Gerda Lerner, Bonnie Smith, Natalie Zemon Davis, to name but a few, and East European historians has shown. Although we do not exclude the earlier developments in the field, the major aim of this Forum is to bring together contributions about the situation of women’s and gender history in CESEE during the past few decades.
Ana Proykova, Malgorzata Fidelis, Marianna G. Muravyeva, Moyuru Matsumae, Slavco Dimitrov, Krassimira Daskalova, Polly Mukanova, Gisela Bock and Haris Exertzoglou
Marina Blagojević, Knowledge Production at the Semiperiphery: A Gender Perspective (Belgrade: Institut za kriminološka i sociološka istraživanja, 2009), 260 pp., (pb), ISBN 978-86-83287-36-9.
Maria Bucur, Heroes and Victims: Remembering War in Twentieth- Century Romania (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009), 352 pp., $19.60 (pb), ISBN 978-0-253-22134-6.
Irina R. Chikalova, ed., Zhenshchiny v istorii: vozmozhnost byt uvidennymi (Women in history: The possibility to be visible) (Minsk: BPGU imeni Maksima Tanka, 2001–2004), vol. 1, 320 pp., (pb), ISBN 985-435- 359-1; vol. 2, 320 pp., (pb), ISBN 985-435-359-2; vol. 3, 308 pp, (pb), ISBN 985-435-776-7.
Kristen Ghodsee, Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009), 270 pp., $24.95 (pb), ISBN 978-0-691-13955-5, $65.00 (hb), ISBN 978-0-691-13954-8.
Katerina Kolozova, The Lived Revolution: Solidarity with the Body in Pain as the New Political Universal (Skopje: Evro-Balkan Press, 2010), 232 pp., €15.00, ISBN 978-9989-136-69-6.
Shana Penn and Jill Massino, eds., Gender Politics and Everyday Life in State Socialist Eastern and Central Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmil- lan, 2009), 292 pp., $85 (hb), ISBN 978-0-230-61300-3.
Wendy Rosslyn and Alessandra Tosi, eds., Women in Russian Culture and Society, 1700–1825 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 272 pp., £55.00 (hb), ISBN 978-0-23-055323-1.
Marius Turda and Paul J. Weindling, eds., Blood and Homeland: Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900–1940 (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2007), 476 pp., $25.95 (pb), ISBN 978-963-7326-81-3.
Demetra Tzanaki, Women and Nationalism in the Making of Modern Greece: The Founding of the Kingdom to the Greco-Turkish War (London: Palgrave Macmillan, St Anthony’s Series, 2009), 234 pp., $75 (hb), ISBN 978-0-230-54546.
Communism and Feminism Revisited
Francisca de Haan, Kristen Ghodsee, Krassimira Daskalova, Magdalena Grabowska, Jasmina Lukić, Chiara Bonfiglioli, Raluca Maria Popa and Alexandra Ghit
Introduction - Francisca de Haan
State-Socialist Women’s Organizations in Cold War Perspective: Revisiting the Work of Maxine Molyneux - Kristen Ghodsee
Audiatur et altera pars: In Response to Nanette Funk - Krassimira Daskalova
From Revolutionary Agents to Reactive Actors: The Transformation of Socialist Women’s Organizing in Poland from the 1940s through the 1980s - Magdalena Grabowska
One Socialist Story, or How I Became a Feminist - Jasmina Lukić
On Vida Tomšic, Marxist Feminism, and Agency - Chiara Bonfiglioli
“We Opposed It”: The National Council of Women and the Ban on Abortion in Romania (1966) - Raluca Maria Popa
Partisan Potential: Researching Communist Women’s Organizations in Eastern Europe - Alexandra Ghit