This article looks at various models of women's agency in Poland in the context of religion. Based on fieldwork among members of two feminized religious milieus—a new religious movement the Brahma Kumaris and an informal Catholic fundamentalist group—this article discusses the role of silence in ritual and everyday life as a form of agency. From the perspective of feminist discourse, particularly Western liberal feminism, silence is often interpreted as a lack of power. Drawing on informants' experiences, under Polish gender regimes, particularly as they relate to the organization of public and private spheres, silence is shown to be a fundamental component of agency. The analysis of silence displays the complexity of religious issues in Poland and serves as a critique of assumptions about religious homogeneity and the pervasiveness of religious authority in Poland.
Spirituality and women's agency beyond the Catholic Church in Poland
Women's Experience of the Holodomor, 1932–1933
Although the tragedy of the Holodomor (the Great Famine) of 1932 and 1933 figures prominently in public discourse and historical scholarship in Ukraine today, its gender dimension has not yet been examined. This article is based on an analysis of personal narratives of female survivors of the Holodomor, collected and published in Ukraine since the 1990s until now. It focuses on the peculiarities of women's experience of the Holodomor and explores women's strategies of resistance and survival in the harsh circumstances of genocide. It exposes a spectrum of women's agency at the grassroots and illuminates controversies around women's ways of coping with starvation. The article also discusses the methodological challenges and ethical issues faced by a Ukrainian female scholar studying women's experiences of famine.
Malagasy Marriage, Shifting Post-Colonial Hierarchies, and Policing New Boundaries
In 1999 and 2004, a debate exploded within the Malagasy expatriate community in France after Et Plus Si Affinités, a realist style documentary about arranged marriage between Malagasy women and French men, aired on local television. The series chronicled the adventures of three French bachelors who went to Madagascar to find brides. In this article, I use the reactions to Et Plus Si Affinités as a lens through which to examine changes in Malagasy sexual relations as they are inflected by relations between different ethnic groups in Madagascar, particularly how different groups have historically approached sexual and marital relationships between Malagasy women and French men. Drawing on this case study, I argue that studies of transnational arranged marriage need to attend more closely first to historical representations and the way they figure into transnational marriage, and second to how circulating representations mediate women's agency and their ability to achieve their goals.