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For Women's Rights, Church, and Fatherland

The Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation, 1908-1940

Indrė Karčiauskaitė

This article examines the history of the Lietuviu Katalikiu Moteru Draugija (LKMD, Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation) from its foundation in 1908 to its disbandment under Soviet occupation in 1940. Special attention is paid to the LKMD's changing relationship with the Catholic clergy and Lithuanian nationalism. Exploring which type of feminism the LKMD represented, the article focuses on attitudes of the LKMD leadership towards women's rights, participation in society, and paid employment. The beginning of the 1920s is shown to have been a turning point. At that time many educated women became active in order to enshrine women's rights in the statutes of the newly independent Lithuanian State. Several of them joined the LKMD, subsequently succeeding in reducing the clergy's influence on the organisation's central board. The LKMD, it turns out, was a good example of a women's organisation espousing relational feminism (Karen Offen's term), insisting on women's participation in society as being distinct from men's, particularly in relation to women's role as mothers, while taking a stand for equality between men and women, especially with respect to judicial issues.

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Victoria Rowe

Through an analysis of articles and novels written by four Armenian women, which appeared in the periodical press from 1880 to 1915, this text evaluates the ways in which the trajectories of the intellectual and cultural movement known as the Zartonk (Awakening) in Armenian history facilitated women writers' emergence into the public sphere and their creation of the language and formulation of a discourse of women's rights in the Armenian socio-political context. The article provides biographical information on four women writers and examines the secular cultural institutions—such as the salon, the periodical press, the school, and the philanthropic organisation—which emerged in Constantinople and were conducive to women's participation in the public sphere. The article then problematises Armenian women writers' formulation of a specific political discourse of women's rights in the socio-political context of the Armenian millet in the Ottoman state and suggests that Armenian women writers produced a type of feminism that may have been typical of nations without independence in the context of state-sanctioned violence.

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Alessia Donà

Despite a situation of economic crisis and political uncertainty, the year 2013 will be remembered for the highest female parliamentary representation ever reached in Italy, for the adoption of new legislative measures to combat violence against women, and for increased female participation in the labor market. This chapter provides an overview of these three main events. First, by conducting a process-tracing analysis, the chapter reconstructs the steps taken toward new legislative measures against gender-based violence. Second, the chapter explores the Italian labor market, where the harsh crisis put women back into the workforce. Lastly, the possible policy implications of a renewed, younger, and more gender-balanced Parliament are discussed. The main argument is that the events of 2013 may represent a turning point for Italian women's rights, but only if traditional gender roles are challenged.

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Tradition's Desire

The Politics of Culture in the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma

Thembisa Waetjen and Gerhard Maré

This article examines the recent trial of ANC president Jacob Zuma, and how gender power was framed in respect to, and within, the politics of culture. The trial centred on allegations of rape by Zuma of an HIV positive woman many years his junior, who was also the daughter of a former anti-apartheid struggle comrade. All of these details were considered pertinent, not only to the legal debates about whether a crime had been committed, but also to the political debates raging around the nation's key challenges of high rates of sexual violence and the 'denialist' state response to devastating levels of HIV infection. Many Zuma supporters saw the accusation of rape as politically motivated and as evidence of an anti-Zuma conspiracy. In visibly smaller numbers, women's rights groups were present on the streets as well, trying to draw attention to the general problem of the nation's extraordinarily high rates of sexual violence and the general failure of the justice system to address cases of rape. The article argues that the fervour surrounding this trial, the burning political question of women's status was continually cast as a private matter: debates about relations between men and women came to be focused on issues of propriety, behaviour and etiquette rather than on questions about rights and power. In short, the privatisation of gender was effected through the politics of culture. As culture is politicised as a legal and secular 'right', gender is de-politicised to become a normatively 'private' and 'customary' domain. This is not merely a South African dilemma, but a dilemma which is con-concomitant to the social conditions of modernity itself.

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Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

Two of the earliest women's suffrage victories were achieved in the Russian Empire, in Finland and Russia, as a result of wars and revolutions. Their significance has been largely ignored, yet study of these achievements challenges the standard paradigms about the conditions (struggle within a democracy, geographic location on the 'periphery'), which favoured early suffrage breakthroughs. This article analyses the particular circumstances in Finland and Russia, which, in a relatively short amount of time, broke down resistance to giving women the vote. An examination of the events surrounding the February 1917 Russian Revolution, which toppled the Tsar, demonstrates the significant role of women in initiating and furthering the revolutionary momentum as well as fighting for their own rights. Both the Finns and the Russians pioneered in extending the legacies of the French and American Revolutions to include women.

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The Different Faces of a Celebration

The Greek Course of International Women's Day, 1924–2010

Angelika Psarra

This article examines the history of International Women's Day (IWD) in Greece from its first celebration in 1924 until 2010. IWD was introduced in Greece by the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) and remained a communist ritual for fifty years. After the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974, the anniversary gradually acquired a wide acceptance and has since been adopted by feminist groups and organizations, trade unions, and parties from the entire political spectrum. The article follows the transformations of the celebration, explores its nebulous genealogy and the myths about its origins, and discusses its impressive ability to survive in diverse socio-political contexts.

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Modern Women in a Modern State

Public Discourse in Interwar Yugoslavia on the Status of Women in Turkey (1923–1939)

Anđelko Vlašić

After the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, Turkish women gained numerous political, social, and educational rights. Their rapidly improving status was a frequent topic in the public discourse of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (SHS)/Yugoslavia during the interwar years. One can find numerous comments in Yugoslav newspapers and journal articles, monographs, diaries, travel accounts, and other texts of the period on the contrast between the status of women in the “traditional,” “conservative,” theocratic Ottoman Empire and the status of women in the “modern,” “liberal,” secular Republic of Turkey. The Yugoslav media compared the status of Turkish women with the position of women’s rights in Yugoslavia. Through the analysis of interwar Yugoslav public discourse on the status of women in contemporary Turkey, this article aims to reveal the Yugoslav public’s perception of women’s issues through the prism of Turkey as Europe’s “Other” and their self-perception.

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Facing East, Facing West

Mark Twain's Following the Equator and Pandita Ramabai's The Peoples of the United States

Brian Yothers

Mark Twain's Following the Equator (1897), a narrative of a journey to the South Pacific, Australia, South Asia, and South Africa, has occupied a small but significant space in the consideration of Twain's wider career as both a travel writer and social critic. Twain's work has not, however, been considered in conjunction with the works of later nineteenth-century South Asian travelers in North America. The present article puts Twain's discussion of India and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) in dialogue with Indian scholar and women's rights activist Pandita Ramabai's 1889 travelogue The Peoples of the United States.

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Anika Keinz

Soon after the collapse of communism, women's rights and gender equality became hotly debated issues in Poland, particularly as they were linked to different interpretations of what the transition to democracy ought to mean. In the context of conservative arguments linking Poland's “return to normalcy” with a return to traditional gender roles and relating feminism to the “foreign” socialist order, women's NGOs and networks in Warsaw started to creatively re-frame their arguments within the terms of Polish tradition. At the same time EUropeanization of gender discourses provided another contested register in which women's rights activists had to negotiate their claims. This article explores how concepts of gender and feminism in Poland have become objects, as much as effects, of powerful political debates, describing a discursive field where national self-understandings and values are negotiated in the context of transition and EU accession. It provides an ethnographic account of the central role played by notions of gender and feminism in imaging democratic citizenship and in producing new subject positions in postsocialist Poland.

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Engaging Feminist Anthropology in Vanuatu

Local Knowledge and Universal Claims

Jean Mitchell

In Vanuatu, where the revival of kastom (custom) has been pivotal in defining postcolonial identity, articulations of feminism(s) are offen met with ambivalence. The tension between discourses of individual rights and collective obligations and the tension between universal ideas of women's rights and local cultural practices such as kastom must be confronted. An engaged feminist anthropology, I argue, resists singular accounts of modernity by locating local knowledge and kastomary practices within a larger context that unsettles the boundaries of local and universal. Disentangling the ways in which contemporary critiques of kastom resonate with missionary and colonial representations of Melanesian violence and drawing attention to the structural violence of everyday life are also important tasks. Invoking the concepts of 'modest witness' and 'situated knowledge', I discuss what Strathern (1987) has called the 'awkward relationship' between anthropology and feminism and consider the possibilities of an engaged feminist anthropology.