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The 'Gendered Field' of Kaolinite Clay Production

Performance Characteristics among the Balengou

Ngambouk V. Pemunta

This article examines the 'gendered field' of kaolinite clay production and its integration into the local socio-cultural universe of the Balengou of the Western region of Cameroon. Kaolinite clay is produced and ingested mainly by women, especially during pregnancy so as to ensure that their children are born 'clean'. Used as a herbal additive, the clay is also believed to be imbued with sacred qualities and has a symbolic role in various communal rituals. Although geophagy—the practice of eating earth—is associated with harmful health effects, the various affordances offered by kaolinite clay as a valuable object of material culture constitute a specific entanglement of nature and culture. This study makes a modest contribution to the literature on the 'politics of value' and on the relationality of human/non-human interactions.

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“Undoing” Gender

Nexus of Complicity and Acts of Subversion in The Piano Teacher and Black Swan

Neha Arora and Stephan Resch

Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001) and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) are films about women directed by men. Both films unorthodoxly chart women artists’ struggle with the discipline imposed on them by the arts and by their live-in mothers. By portraying mothers as their daughters’ oppressors, both films disturb the naïve “women = victims and men = perpetrators” binary. Simultaneously, they deploy audiovisual violence to exhibit the violence of society’s gender and sexuality policy norms and use gender-coded romance narratives to subvert the same gender codes from within this gender discourse. Using Judith Butler’s and Michael Foucault’s theories, we argue that Haneke and Aronofsky “do” feminism unconventionally by exposing the nexus of women’s complicity with omnipresent societal power structures that safeguard gender norms. These films showcase women concurrently as victim-products and complicit partisans of socially constructed gender ideology to emphasize that this ideology can be destabilized only when women “do” their gender and sexuality differently through acts of subversion.

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Gendering Balkanisms

Gender, Culture, and Class in Nineteenth-Century Women's Travelogues in the Balkans

Marina Matešić

This article links nineteenth-century travelogues about the Balkans written by European women travelers—Dora d'Istria, Maria Karlova, Emily Strangford, and Paulina Irby and Georgina Mackenzie—both to a broader historical discourse called Balkanism and to the socio-historical contexts of the authors themselves. It examines the ways in which these texts adopted existing hegemonic dichotomies of Balkanism concerning culture, ethnicity/religion, and gender and whether they set new paths for Balkanist discourse. Written during the time of anti-Ottoman uprisings and nation-building movements, the travelogues expressed diverse humanitarian, Christian, feminist, anti-imperial/Turkish and other agendas and discussed the crucial role of (Balkan) women in it. Through a particular focus on domestic life and the lives of women, these women travelers also spoke of their own position in society, bringing to light their struggle for equality in traveling, writing, and participating in broader political and social life, and in that way disturbed the male-centered Balkanist discourse.

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The gender of coffee

Women and reconciliation initiatives in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina

Elissa Helms

This article explores the gendering of reconciliation initiatives from the perspective of Bosniac women active in women's NGOs in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. I illustrate how established patriarchal gender relations and socialistera models of women's community involvement framed the ways in which some women's NGO participants constructed essential ethno-national and gender differences, in contrast to dominant donor discourses. This leads to exploration of how gender patterns embedded in the institution of komšiluk (good-neighborliness), particularly women's coffee visits, provided both obstacle and opportunity for renewed life together among ethnic others separated by wartime ethnic cleansing. Distinguishing between the two concepts, I show how, from the perspective of women's roles and experiences, “life together” may be all that displaced women want or expect out of “reconciliation” initiatives, and that even this may be beyond the capacity of many displaced people to forego talk about injustices and guilt stemming from the war.

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En-Gendering Insecurities

The Case of the Migration Policy Regime in Thailand

Philippe Doneys

The paper examines the migration policy regime in Thailand using a human security lens. It suggests that insecurities experienced by migrants are partly caused or exacerbated by a migration policy regime, consisting of migration laws and regulations and non-migration related policies and programs, that pushes migrants into irregular forms of mobility and insecure employment options. These effects are worse for women migrants who have fewer resources to access legal channels while they are relegated to insecure employment in the reproductive or informal sectors. Using a gender and human security analysis, therefore, reveals how the migration policy regime, often informed by a restrictive national security approach, can clash with the human security needs of migrants by creating a large pool of unprotected irregular migrants with women occupying the most vulnerable forms of employment. In conclusion, it is suggested that this ‘en-gendering’ of human insecurities could be overcome if gender equality was designed into policies and guided their implementation.

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Conflicting Interpretations of Gender

Hysteria, Masculinity, and Marriage in Florence Marryat's Nelly Brooke

Greta Depledge

In 1868 Florence Marryat published Nelly Brooke: A Homely Tale, ostensibly a novel full of classic sensation themes: illegitimacy, love, seduction, addiction, and a murder of sorts. More interestingly, however, the novel also plays with nineteenth-century gender expectations and ideas current in medical and scientific discourse. This essay explores the representations of male hysteria and the demonised man of science which this novel depicts. These themes, contained within a hugely satisfying sensation plot, are also offset against the plight of the fortuneless woman in the nineteenth-century marriage market.

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Gendered Models of Resistance

Jansenist Nuns and Unigenitus

Mita Choudhury

In the decades following the promulgation of the anti-Jansenist bull Unigenitus, scores of nuns and convents resisted the efforts of authorities to make them acquiesce to the Bull. Male Jansenist authors writing from a figurist perspective transformed this female dissent into the model for all forms of spiritual resistance against Unigenitus. Their gendered constructions represented a challenge to the church hierarchy, forging nuns into a political weapon against the ultramontane episcopacy. The controversy over the Religieuses Hospitalières during the 1750s reveals how Jansenist lawyers and magistrates deployed the controversies over these “model” nuns to censure episcopal despotism and to legitimate parliamentary intervention in religious affairs, thereby opening the way to prescribing constitutional limits on the monarchy itself.

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Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder

Several recent surveys report a gap between how men and women feel about autonomous vehicles. While such binaries may have limited usefulness, female respondents rank autonomous technology as less trustworthy and are less likely than men to report feeling safe in an autonomous car. This comment frames such results within the articles for this special section on autonomous vehicles, showing how reported gender divisions are resultant from discursive formations that frame user experience and individual performed experiences. These discursive-material dynamics generate persuasive configurations of power that thoughtful research and action in autonomous vehicle development could help mitigate. After summarizing survey diff erences, this comment off ers a brief commentary on how they might be addressed, focusing on material rhetoric and vehicle design.

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Girls Reconstructing Gender

Agency, Hybridity and Transformations of 'Femininity'

Jessica Laureltree Willis

What are the contours of cultural stories that explain how a girl becomes a girl? Girlhood is an identity position often taken for granted in the social world. Yet how girls learn to construct normalized gender identities can reveal important shifts in changing cultural ideas about societal expectations for female youth. Utilizing a cross-disciplinary approach, the basis for this discussion are individual interviews with preadolescent girls. Interpretive discoveries focus on how girls in their meaning-making and decision-making contribute to diverse cultural constructions of female subjectivity. This research pertains specifically to a small sample of girls from a large ethnically diverse city in the Northeast United States. The thematic patterns that emerge, nonetheless, offer broader insight into the diverse ways that girls fuse aspects of 'femininity' and 'masculinity' in establishing complex subjectivities. This practice of reimagining cultural conceptions of 'femininity' indicates girls' innovative contributions to the co-creation of culture in their acts of establishing subjectivity through agentive and alternative uses of discourse.

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Susan Zimmermann

This study argues that the changing relationship between paid work, unpaid work and paid care work and social services, and the struggle over this relationship and its implications, constituted key factors in shaping the ‘state socialist’ gender regime in Hungary from 1949 to the 1980s. The study is based on a wealth of recent scholarship, original sources and Hungarian research conducted during the state socialist period. It tries to give a balanced and inclusive analysis of key elements of women’s and gender history in the state socialist project of ‘catching-up development’ in a semi-peripheral patriarchal society, pointing to constraints, challenges and results of this project. Due to the complex interaction of a variety of actors and factors impacting on and shaping the state socialist gender regime not all women were affected in the same way by state socialist politics and gender struggles. Women’s status and opportunities, as well as gender relations, differed according to class, ethnicity and economic sector. As a rule, the gender struggle over state socialist family and gender arrangements in Hungary sought to reduce or temper tensions and conflicts by avoiding substantial or direct attack against the privileges of men both within the home and elsewhere.