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Celebration of Ann Snitow’s last book

 Visitors: 
An American Feminist in East Central Europe

just published in Polish translation

“A feminist organizer in East Central Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall reveals the struggles of women fighting for their rights during the rise of the Right in Europe

Visitors tells the story of Ann Snitow’s adventures as a Western feminist helping to build a new, post-communist feminist movement in Eastern Central Europe. Snitow stumbles onto this fast-changing, chaotic scene by chance, but falls in love with the passionate feminists she meets in Poland, the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania. What kinds of feminism should they hope for?

Visitors is a book about forging enduring relationships and creating formerly unimaginable institutions—a feminist school, the Network of East-West Women, women’s centers, gender studies programs. It is about unity amid fractiousness and perseverance through uncertainty, Snitow’s flickering lodestar. Visitors moves gracefully between vivid anecdote, political analysis, and unsparing introspection. It is richly peopled with “brilliant” comrades and vexing detractors alike, all described with respect and humor. Every sentence is imbued with the experience and insight of this sui generis feminist activist, writer, and pedagogue of 50 years. Most of all, Visitors is the story of friendship, the heart and sinew of the leaderless feminist movement.

Reading like the best historical novel, it is intimate and worldly, resolutely unsentimental yet finally, even as the political skies darken, optimistic in the conviction that feminism can make life meaningful, fascinating, fun, pleasurable—and better for everyone, even as better is redefined again and again.”

In person RSVP: mara.lazda@bcc.cuny.edu and on Zoom, Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUtdO-oqzkoHddWdeQYsDWLIKoplZ2kNjUK

European Union Studies Center

CUNY Graduate Center

365 5th Avenue, New York

Room 5203

Note for in-person attendees: ID and proof of vaccination or negative PCR test within 7 days required.

Ann Snitow was Professor Emerita of Literature and Gender Studies at Lang College, The New School. A longtime activist, Snitow cofounded The Network of East-West Women, No More Nice Girls, Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce, Take Back the Future, and New York Radical Feminists. She co-founded the women’s studies program at Rutgers University and gender studies programs at The New School, where she taught for three decades. Snitow’s best-known book is The Feminism of UncertaintyVisitors is her sixth book.

Susan Faludi is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and the author of the bestselling Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, and The Terror Dream: Myth and Misogyny in an Insecure America. Her recent memoir, In the Darkroom, won the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction.

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Women and sexual health: The intersections of medical science and politics during state socialism in East-Central Europe

Please join us for our third Fall 2022 meeting of the Gender & Transformation in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia workshop (In-person and Zoom)

Kateřina Lišková

Associate Professor, Masaryk University, Czechia

Friday, Nov. 4, 2022

2pm to 3pm

European Union Studies Center,

CUNY Graduate Center

365 5th Avenue, New York

Room 5203

With the advent of socialism, East-Central European (ECE) states emphasized women’s equality. I will show the unexpected progress brought to the fore by medical science in women’s sexual health. Drawing on my own and my team’s research on Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany, I will focus on the first postwar decade during which abortion on demand was legalized in most ECE countries, and gynecological and pregnancy care became institutionalized. During the 1950s, medical doctors in all ECE countries focused on female reproductive capacities in the new context of women’s growing participation in the labor force. Gynecologists debated whether work presented risks to pregnancies and concluded that paid jobs actually improved women’s chances at healthy childbearing because of socialist legislation regulating work safety, improved access to gynecological check-ups and, importantly, thanks to equality and better economic standing the working status brought to women. However, experts scolded housework for posing a danger to pregnant women: often, hard work, without any regulations, was exhausting to women and underscored their unequal status compared to men. The 1950s also marked the beginning of medical experts’ sustained attention to women’s marital and sexual satisfaction. While the Western-centered accounts place women’s liberation, including in sexual and reproductive lives, in the 1960s/70s, I will argue for an earlier and systemic liberation that took place in the 1950s in the countries of the Cold War East-Central Europe. I will underscore the vital role experts played in these developments.

In person RSVP: mara.lazda@bcc.cuny.edu

on Zoom, Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIqceirrDwpHtcw3BT-rOHoi3HMPgwVmoSN

We ask that participants read the paper before the workshop, which we will share with registered participants one week in advance. After a brief presentation by Prof. Lišková, most of the workshop will be devoted to discussion.

Note for in-person attendees: ID and proof of vaccination or negative PCR test within 7 days required.

Kateřina Lišková, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in sociology at Masaryk University, Czech Republic. Her research focuses on gender, sexuality, expertise, and the social organization of intimacy, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. She is also affiliated as a guest researcher with the Department of History and Art History of Utrecht University. 

In 2021, she was a Senior Fellow at the Descartes Center for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. As a Marie Curie fellow, she was affiliated with Columbia University and Technische Universität in Berlin. Previously, she was at the New School for Social Research as a Fulbright Scholar; a Visiting Scholar with New York University; and a Fellow with the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena, Germany. Cambridge University Press published her previous research in a monograph titled Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Communist Czechoslovakia and the Science of Desire, 1945–89, which won the 2019 Barbara Heldt Prize for Best Book and received an honorable mention for the 2019 Adele E. Clarke Book Award.

Her papers have appeared in Medical History, History of the Human Sciences, History of Psychology, Sexualities, and History of the Family. She serves as an Editorial Board member for the European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health.

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Presentations

Resisting Genderphobia in Hungary

Please join us for our second Fall 2022 meeting of the Gender & Transformation in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia workshop (Zoom only):

Judit Takacs

Research Professor, Centre for Social Sciences – Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, Budapest, Hungary

Friday, Oct. 7

2-3PM New York City time

By analysing relevant pieces of legislation and policy documents, we show how genderphobia became a fundamental feature of an expanding far-right agenda that has been playing out in practice since the “System of National Cooperation” was established in Hungary in 2010. Genderphobia is the aversion of disrupting dominant gender and sexual hierarchies, by addressing and critically interrogating gendered differences and gender as a social construct. Genderphobia is both an ideology about the fearfulness of gender as well as the action of fear mongering for political effect. State institutions are gendered and sexualized in that they have been structured on dominant gender and sexual norms that reinforce male and heterosexual dominance. We argue that genderphobia is evident in the rise of anti-LGBTIQ policies and contributes to the weakening of democratic and liberal institutions in Hungary. We will also present examples of the Hungarian government’s attempts to monopolise the definition of “the family” and hollow out the social representation of child protection. In addition, we will explore resistance against the recent anti-LGBTIQ policies through children’s literature

Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUtdumvpz8iHtUafvaXkj0W_X6S5k14YUPG

We ask that participants read the paper before the workshop, which we will share with registered participants one week in advance. After a brief presentation of the paper, most of the workshop will be devoted to discussion.

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Schedule

Fall 2022 Schedule

We’re back in-person! (and on Zoom). Please see below requirements for attending in person.

Fridays, 2pm to 3pm New York Time

2pm to 3pm New York Time,

European Union Studies Center, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Avenue, New York, Room 5203

Sept 30 (in-person and online)   

“Gender and State Repression in Belarus”

Olena Nikolayenko, Professor of Political Science, Fordham University

Registration Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZApdOGhpzkiH9zvpuFy0fKU9WxiA-RHiOBz

Oct. 7 (online only)   

“Resisting Genderphobia in Hungary”

Judit Takacs, Research Professor, Centre for Social Sciences – Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, Budapest, Hungary

Registration Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUtdumvpz8iHtUafvaXkj0W_X6S5k14YUPG

Nov. 4 (online and in person)

“Women and sexual health. The intersections of medical science and politics during state socialism in East-Central Europe”

Katerina Liskova, Associate Professor, Masaryk University, Czechia

Dec.2 (in person and online) 

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIqceirrDwpHtcw3BT-rOHoi3HMPgwVmoSN

Celebration of friend of the workshop, Ann Snitow’s last book, Visitors: An American Feminist in East Central Europe, just published in Polish translation.

MałgorzataTarasiewicz, President, Network East-West Women

Katheryn M. Detwiler,  Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies, The Stevens Institute of Technology

Sonia Jaffe Robbins, Co-Founder of the Network East-West Women

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUtdO-oqzkoHddWdeQYsDWLIKoplZ2kNjUK

RSVP required. For Zoom participants, register with the link. For In-Person participants, email mara.lazda@bcc.cuny to register. To enter the Grad Center, identification, proof of vaccination are required, or  negative PCR test results received within 7 days.

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2022-23 Call for Papers

Thanks everyone for participating last year in helping us co-innovate this workshop into the Zoom era with our new host, CUNY’s Center for European Studies. This year, we’d like to continue to innovate with a schedule that alternates between online transnational events and in-person events in NYC at the CUNY Graduate Center. In these ways, we hope to continue this workshop founded in 1993, driven by the exploration of questions related to gender in postcommunist countries of East, South and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, including the Baltic countries and Central Asia, and their relationship to Europe and the European Union.

Theme

While we remain open to any related topics, it is hard not to think about the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Thus, this year, we are most interested in proposals that consider the impact of Russia’s aggression on gender in the region, state gendered violence inside and outside the state borders, and the role of state propaganda in fostering ultranationalism and war. We also hope to have one session celebrating and considering Ann Snitow’s last book, Visitors: An American Feminist in East Central Europe, as COVID preventing us from doing so since its publication. The book is also coming out in Polish this year.

Details

  • Meet monthly on Fridays, at the CUNY Grad Center in New York City or via Zoom, 2-3 PM New York time (8-9PM Poland time)
  • Presenters share a 10-15 page paper in advance to those who have registered. The workshop presentation will be limited to 20 minutes to allow maximum time for conversation.

We will moderate the sessions so that we check in with what we are all thinking about, hear and see the key ideas of the paper, and have lots of time to discuss collaboratively.

The purpose is to continue as an informal and friendly gathering for feminist scholars, activists, and journalists to discuss recent theoretical and/or critical work, empirical research, and critical and scholarly reflections on activism.

If you would like to present, please fill out this google form: https://forms.gle/QFvM1QRn83R5mJah9

We regret that, as of this year, we have no funds for an honorarium.

All are welcome to participate. We will start reviewing proposals on Aug. 1, 2022.

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5/13 motherhood in the GDR

“We always also did this for our children”:  Motherhood in the GDR between Socialism and Opposition

Yanara Schmacks, CUNY Graduate Center

Friday, May 13, 2022 2-3PM New York City time via Zoom

Register in advance using this Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIlcu-vqDMoH9bzRWIdC2tUd1VgkbLHkJkY

Looking at the ways in which GDR women activists and writers dealt with motherhood, this paper explores how they, in conversation with and sometimes opposition to the state, renegotiated socialist modernity. East German women writers drew up alternative, socialist versions of maternity, framing the mother-child relationship as a platonic partnership between mother and child and, in stark contrast to their Western counterparts, deemphasizing the bodily elements of motherhood. These positions toward motherhood and children were often ultimately politically in line with culturally hegemonic ideas about the socialist family that were promoted by the state. Yet, in the 1980s, motivated by intense maternal concern for their children in the face of growing Cold War tensions and environmental destruction, GDR women’s activists tried to actively intervene at the state level to improve the future of their children instead of focusing on their own identities as mothers, thereby becoming involved in oppositional activities and ultimately contributing to bringing about the Wende in 1989.

Participants are asked to read the paper in advance. After a brief presentation by the speaker, most of the workshop will be devoted to discussion. Please email mara.lazda@bcc.cuny.edu for the paper.

About the speaker

Yanara Schmacks is a PhD candidate in Modern European History at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. She is working on a cultural-intellectual history of motherhood in the three postwar German states from the 1970s to the early 2000s, exploring how the maternal served as a space for the renegotiation of both the German past as well as the East-West divide and reunification. She has received a BA in Liberal Arts & Sciences from University College Maastricht and an MA in Interdisciplinary Antisemitism Studies from Technical University Berlin. Her research on conceptualizations of motherhood in the West German 1970s and 1980s has been published in Central European History and Psychoanalysis and History. She is currently a fellow at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Free University in Berlin.

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4/29 Special Session on Ukraine

“Shades of Protracted Displacement:
Reconciling citizenship and the status of internally displaced in Eastern Ukraine”

Organized by the European Studies Center at the CUNY Grad Center; co-sponsored by the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, HURI

Oleksandra Tarkhanova, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Discussant:  Olga Sasunkevich, University of Gothenburg, Sweden 
 
With introductory remarks by Emily Channell-Justice, Director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University

Crossing point in Eastern Ukraine between government-controlled and non-controlled territories.

Register in advance for this meeting.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
The paper will be shared one week in advance.

About the Speaker

Dr. Oleksandra Tarkhanova is a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Governance and Culture in Europe at the University of St. Gallen. Her research is on citizenship negotiations, displacement, and war in eastern Ukraine. She received her PhD in Sociology at Bielefeld University, where she worked on social welfare and gender politics in Ukraine. Her book “Compulsory Motherhood, Paternalistic State? Ukrainian Gender Politics and the Subject of Woman” came out with Palgrave in 2021. See also: Russia-Ukraine War, Contemporary Ukraine, Co-Sponsored Event

Oleksandra Tarkhanova

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