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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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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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December 10, Korolczuk on Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Movement

Please join us Friday December 10 at 2pm (New York Time) when our speaker will be

Elżbieta Korolczuk, University of Warsaw and Södertörn University

Prof. Korolczuk is a sociologist, commentator and women’s rights activist working at Södertörn University in Stockholm and at the American Studies Center, Warsaw University. She analyzes social movements, civil society, reproduction and gender. Recent books include a co-authored volume Bunt Kobiet. Czarne Protesty i Strajki Kobiet (2019, European Solidarity Centre) and a monograph Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Moment  with Agnieszka Graff (2021, Routledge). Her workshop session will be based on her collaborative research with Graff.

2pm to 3pm (New York Time) on Zoom:

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83207366370?pwd=aGxBU1lqcVdsaFFXNW8wMVpIYnBYdz09

Workshop format: We ask that participants read the paper in advance. Please email Mara Lazda mara.lazda@bcc.cuny.edu for the paper. At the workshop, Prof. Korolczuk will provide an introduction (5-10 minutes) after which participants are invited to ask questions based on the introduction and paper.

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November 5 2pm: Balogh on Roma Women in Hungary

Please join us for our next workshop on Friday November 5 from 2pm to 3pm (EDT) when our speaker will be:

Lídia Balogh, Research Fellow, Centre for Social Sciences (Budapest, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence) on

Complainants, Citizens, Sisters – Ways of Empowering Marginalized Roma Women in Hungary: Strategic Litigation, Non-adversarial Actions and Community-Building

Lídia Balogh works for the Centre for Social Sciences (Budapest, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence) as a Research Fellow. She is a visiting lecturer at the ELTE University Faculty of Social Sciences in Budapest and serves as a national expert in the European Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-discrimination. She provides supervision to a regional women’s rights NGO, Regina Foundation Miskolc, relating to projects implemented with the involvement of women from a marginalized rural community. In 2018-2020 she contributed to the project “Civil Society Monitoring of National Roma Integration Strategies” (funded by the European Commission) as a gender expert, and in 2016-2019 she supported the work of the European Roma Rights Centre relating to women’s rights issues. She defended her PhD dissertation in 2016, at the Media Theory Program of ELTE University, Budapest. She holds MAs in Nationalism Studies and in Communication Studies.

We ask that participants read the presenter’s paper in advance. Dr. Balogh will provide some introductory comments (10 minutes) at the workshop, after which attendees are invited to ask questions based on the paper and introductory comments.

The paper will be available one week in advance. Please email Mara Lazda (mara.lazda@bcc.cuny.edu) for the paper.

Zoom link for workshop:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83207366370?pwd=aGxBU1lqcVdsaFFXNW8wMVpIYnBYdz09

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Oct. 22: Gapova on women in Belarus protests

A Gendered Perspective on the Belarusian Revolution: Reframing Women’s Agency

Elena Gapova, Western Michigan University 

Elena Gapova is Professor of Sociology at Western Michigan University. She was also the Founding Director of Centre for Gender Studies at European Humanities University in Minsk (Belarus). She writes extensively on gender, nationhood, class, and intellectuals in the post-Soviet region and, specifically, in Belarus. Among other publications, she is the author of “The Classes of Nations: Feminist Critique of Nationbuilding” (Moscow: NLO, 2016).

Friday, Oct. 22, 2021

2-3 PM New York time

via Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83207366370?pwd=aGxBU1lqcVdsaFFXNW8wMVpIYnBYdz09

New Format! We ask speakers to submit a 10-20 page (double-spaced) paper one week in advance of the workshop. At the workshop, the speakers will present for 5 to 10 minutes. Participants are then expected to discuss the paper based on the written version and these introductory comments.

Please email Mara Lazda at Mara.Lazda@bcc.cuny.edu for the paper.

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Sept. 24: Bucur on disability in Romania

When the Invalids Came Home: Disability in Romania after World War I

Maria Bucur, Indiana University 

Co-sponsored with the Romanian Studies Organization at Indiana University-Bloomington

Maria Bucur is the John V. Hill professor of history and gender studies at Indiana University. She has written extensively on the history of Romania in the twentieth century, with a focus on eugenics, memory and war, and gender and citizenship. Her monographs include Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania (2002), Victims and Heroes: War and Memory in Twentieth Century Romania (2009), Gendering Modernism (2017), The Century of Women (2018), and The Birth of Democratic Citizenship: Women and Power in Modern Romania (2018), co-authored with Mihaela Miroiu. She was among the founding editors of the gender history journal Aspasia. Her latest book is titled The Nation’s Gratitude: War and Citizenship in Interwar Romania and will be released by Routledge in the spring of 2022. She is now exploring the history of disabilities in Eastern Europe, with a focus on the relationship between the medical profession’s development and the cultural and policy discourses about disability.

Friday, September 24, 2021

2-3 PM New York time

via Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83207366370?pwd=aGxBU1lqcVdsaFFXNW8wMVpIYnBYdz09

New Format! We ask speakers to submit a 10-20 page (double-spaced) paper one week in advance of the workshop. At the workshop, the speakers will present for 5 to 10 minutes. Participants are then expected to discuss the paper based on the written version and these introductory comments.

Please email Mara Lazda at Mara.Lazda@bcc.cuny.edu for the paper.

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Fall 2021 Lineup

Fridays, via Zoom, 2-3 PM New York time 

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83207366370?pwd=aGxBU1lqcVdsaFFXNW8wMVpIYnBYdz09

Maria Bucur, Indiana University 

9/24    

Co-sponsored with the Romanian Studies Organization at Indiana University-Bloomington

When the Invalids Came Home: Disability in Romania after World War I

10/22    

Elena Gapova, Western Michigan University 

A Gendered Perspective on the Belarusian Revolution: Reframing Women’s Agency

11/5    

Lídia Balogh, Centre for Social Sciences, Budapest

Complainants, Citizens, Sisters – Ways of empowering marginalized Roma women in Hungary: Strategic Litigation, Non-adversarial Actions and Community-Building

12/10    

Elżbieta Korolczuk, University of Warsaw and Sodertorns University   

Anti-gender Politics in the Populist Moment

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Call for Papers 2021-2022

We regret that it’s been more than a year!  We miss you all, and we’d like to re-launch.  As with everything, it’s going to be different.

We must first mark our losses. Before the pandemic, we lost Ann Snitow, and New York University’s Center for European & Mediterranean Studies told us that they could no longer host us.  From COVID, we have lost long-term friends of the workshop, including Vesna Kesic, and the travel across borders that fostered so many of our relationships and our thinking–that Ann reexamined in her last book, Visitors: An American Feminist in East Central Europe–came to a virtual halt. 

While this community will not be the same, we would like to take this opportunity to co-create something new with all of you.  For this next year–while we search for our new location–we’d like to create a virtual, international space for us to meet, share ideas, and keep exploring the questions at the intersection of feminist activism and empiricism that have driven the workshop since 1993: 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: This year we are wide open as to the theme.  The world seems upside down, and many of us have been busy with care and compassion work for ourselves and others. We look forward to finding out what you’re observing and thinking about.

Details:

  • Meet monthly on Fridays, 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, using all the Zoom tools available

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.

To participate, please fill out this google form with your name, email, location/affiliation, current related interests.  We have also created a space there for you to share your thoughts and suggestions about the workshop.

If you’d like to present your ideas this year, please also add the following: 

  • tentative title for your talk
  • abstract of less than 200 words describing your proposed talk
  • up to 5 recent publications or information about your activism
  • your schedule clarifying which Fridays you could present

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 July 20, 2021.

For more information on the workshop’s history, see our blog:

https://gendertransformationeurope.wordpress.com/

Warmly,

Janet Elise Johnson, Brooklyn College, City University of New York johnson@brookyn.cuny.edu

Mara Lazda, Bronx Community College, City University of New York mara.lazda@bcc.cuny.edu

Forthcoming in July 2021: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Gender-in-Central-Eastern-Europe-and-Eurasia/Fabian-Johnson-Lazda/p/book/9781138347755

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