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Is the Kingdom of Bicycles Rising Again?

Cycling, Gender, and Class in Postsocialist China

Hilda Rømer Christensen

This article focuses on new types of cycling in postsocialist China, especially mountain and sports biking, and on the particular entanglements of gender and class brought with them. The shift in mobility and biking from the Mao era to the postsocialist China is analyzed in the contexts of cultural-analytical notions of global assemblages and gendered interpellations. Based on Chinese newspaper materials and fieldwork in Beijing and Shanghai, the article examines the social and gendered implications of the new biking cultures. These new biking practices mainly interpellate new middle-class men and masculinities as part of an exclusive leisure culture. If the “Kingdom of the Bicycles” is going to rise again, there is a need for a broader scope that addresses access for all, including women and families, as smart bikers, as well as biking as a daily mode of transportation.

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Martha Kamwendo

This article examines a group of Malawian teachers' views of the relationship between gender and achievement in order to highlight their participation in students' constructions of gendered identities, which in turn have an impact on achievement. Based on a survey with 35 teachers and interviews with 20 of them, the study on which this article is based shows how teachers position boys as high achievers and girls as low achievers. The teachers drew on a number of identity-related concepts that included sexuality, notions of femininity, differential gender socialization in the home, and self image to explain girls' underachievement. I discuss the implications of the findings and suggest how teachers can be encouraged to have a more positive attitude towards girls and their achievement.

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Myra Marx Ferree

This article traces four contested identity claims that carry gender meanings into politics and express the gendered tensions awakened along specific dimensions of institutional change across the past twenty years. The cultural definition of the German nation in the face of immigration, the integration of the German state in a transnational project of making a single Europe, the economic restructuring of unification and its effects on the resources and opportunities available on each side of the former wall, and political changes in the representation of women in state offices, by parties and in national policy-making all reflect continuing struggles over the institutionalized boundaries of inclusion and exclusion as a nation, an imagined community. All of these processes engage passionate feelings about gender relations and have implications for the ordinary lives of women and men as citizens and family members in the new Berlin Republic.

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Media Ecologies of Autonomous Automobility

Gendered and Racial Dimensions of Future Concept Cars

Julia M. Hildebrand and Mimi Sheller

The imagination of automated automobility puts into question the control of the vehicle by a masculine driver and potentially disturbs feelings of safety, power, security, and freedom. Given that systems of automobility and communication technology are already gendered and racialized in particular ways, this article explores how recent “premediated” depictions of automated car technologies reconfigure and reproduce the historically gendered and raced representations, meanings, and practices of (auto)mobility. This inquiry employs a media ecological approach within the qualitative analysis of two concept car previews by Nissan and Volvo. Rather than a degendering of the driver, we suggest a multiplication of gendered and racialized technologies of mobility via several forms of hypermediation. We also explore how the autonomous car continues to evoke utopian spatial metaphors of the car as sanctuary and communicative environment while allaying fears of dystopian metaphors of the vehicle as traffic trap, virtual glass house, and algorithmic target.

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Valentina Mitkova

This article focuses on Bulgarian women writers’ activities, their reception, and their problematic existence in the context of the modernizing and emancipatory trends in Bulgarian society after the Liberation (1878–1944). The analysis is based on the concept of the (intellectual) hierarchy of genders and mechanisms of gender tutelage, traced in the specifics of women’s literary texts, their critical and public resonance, and the authors’ complicated relation with the Bulgarian literary canon. The question is topical, given the noticeable absence of women writers in the corpus of Bulgarian authors/ literary texts, thought and among those considered representative in terms of national identity and culture. The study is based on primary source materials such as works by Bulgarian women writers, the periodical press from the period, various archival materials, and scholarly publications relevant to the topic.

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Claudia Lenz and Kirsten Heinsohn

Building on the assumption that cultural representations of the past contribute to the establishment and regulation of gendered power relations, this article investigates the representations of female participation in the Nazi regime in the German television series Hitlers Frauen. Stuart Hall's concept of decoding is used for a critical media analysis, asking how men and women are positioned as historical agents or passive objects in the series. In fact, the series plays on the gendered symbols and representations associated with the Third Reich. It reproduces traditional ideas regarding the (non)relation between femininity and politics and evokes a sexualized imaginary where women are seduced by a powerful, charismatic leader. Women are represented as dependent-materially, physically, and emotionally. In this way, the television series contributes to the continuation of traditional gender regimes. Even when the series apparently reacts to ongoing debates about women's role within the Nazi system, it disappoints those who hoped to learn about the reasons, interests, and possibilities of women between 1933 and 1945.

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Boys and Education in the Global South

Emerging Vulnerabilities and New Opportunities for Promoting Changes in Gender Norms

Gary Barker, Ravi Verma, John Crownover, Marcio Segundo, Vanessa Fonseca, Juan Manuel Contreras, Brian Heilman and Peter Pawlak

This article presents a review of global data on boys' education in the Global South and recent findings on the influence of boys' educational attainment on their attitudes and behaviors in terms of gender equality. The article also presents three examples—from Brazil, the Balkans, and India—on evaluated, school-based approaches for engaging boys and girls in reducing gender-based violence and promoting greater support for gender equality. Recommendations are provided for how to integrate such processes into the public education system in such a way that provides benefits for both boys and girls in a relational approach.

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The Visible Woman

Interwar Romanian Women's Writing, Modernity and the Gendered Public/Private Divide

Voichiţa Năchescu

In this article I analyse four novels by four Romanian women writers in order to bring into focus their perspectives on interwar gender roles, urbanisation and modernisation. First, I discuss the concept of 'feminine literature', largely used by (predominantly male) Romanian literary critics to describe literary works by women, as a description of normative femininity rather than an aesthetic category. Second, I argue that through their literary works, Romanian women writers effectively criticised interwar gender roles, more precisely the divide between public masculinity and private femininity, the constraints of women's sexual agency, and the heterosexual romance. Last, I analyse four novels published (mainly) during the interwar period by the Romanian women writers Hortensia Papadat Bengescu (1876-1955), Henriette Yvonne Stahl (1900-1984), Ioana Postelnicu (1910-2004) and Anişoara Odeanu (1912-1972), focussing on the female characters' presence and visibility in the urban public space and on the dynamics of the gaze that polices their behaviour.

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The Making of Modern Afghanistan

Reconstruction, Transnational Governance and Gender Politics in the New Islamic Republic

Julie Billaud

This article seeks to characterise the nature of the post-Taliban 'reconstruction' project in Afghanistan through an analysis of observations and interviews collected in the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) in 2007. Based on a case study of a 'gender empowerment' training programme administered by the MoWA and funded by an international aid agency, I underline some intricacies in the relationships that are built in development encounters. I argue that the current efforts to include gender issues in politics are part of a broader cultural project aimed at setting up the conditions of possibility for the creation of a modern Afghan state. I show how reconstruction does not simply consist in the formation of a bureaucratic apparatus based on Western models of liberal democracies but primarily involves cultural and symbolic production.

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The Outburst

Climate Change, Gender Relations, and Situational Analysis

Jonas Østergaard Nielsen

Since the major Sahelian droughts and famines of the early 1970s and 1980s, international development and aid organizations have played a large role in the small village of Biidi 2, located in northern Burkina Faso. This article explores how a visit by a development 'expert' to the village can be analyzed as a social situation in which normal social control is suspended and negotiated. Focusing on gender relations, the analysis shows how the women of Biidi 2 involved in the event were relatively free to construct alternative definitions of their identity and social position vis-à-vis the men.