„What Do Others Think of Me?“: Opposition to Feminism, Menopause and the Public Sphere in Post-Socialist Context
Summary / Abstract: During the early 1990s, the East/West feminist debate pointed out that feminist concepts created as a response to the context of the ’Western’ states cannot be applied to the ’Eastern-European’ context in a simple way. Opposition to feminism present in eastern and south-eastern European countries can be used to provoke re-thinking and contextualisation of basic political concepts, such as the ’public’. Ethnographic sketch of the talk about menopause in a town on the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, points to one kind of the ’informal’ public, and to the interconnectedness of the ’private’ with official medical recommendations and practices.
Keywords: public sphere, private/public, menopause, opposition to feminism
The Lost Matriarch: The Consequences of Remittances on Mother-Child Relationships in Urban Serbia
Ivana Bajić Hajduković
Summary / Abstract: This article examines the consequences of remittances on kinship dynamics, especially on the mother-child relationship in a specific, post-conflict and post-communist context of urban Serbia. By framing remittances in a particular historical and social context, we will demonstrate how for ex-Yugoslav urban middle class remittances have become a gift that threatens to change the power within mother-child relationship, with a profound effect on the mothers left behind. Instead of bringing fi nancial relief and security to elderly mothers, remittances cause them to make tremendous sacrifices to compensate for this gift and to affirm their social status and their identity as mothers.
Keywords: Gender, remittances, Serbia, motherhood, mother-child relationship, social class
We’re Going on the Road, We’re Going and Singing: Peasant Women’s Memories of Socialism in Serbia
Summary / Abstract: This article examines the self-reflexive potential of experience in interpretations of Yugoslavia’s socialist past. It focuses on women of the “older generation” (born between 1914 and 1950) in the area of Niško Polje in southeastern Serbia, who actively participated in amateur vocal groups and performed at state-sponsored festivals in villages during the socialist period. Their stories highlight the complex and contradictory relationship between the personal, interpersonal, and political, and the interconnection between political and lived realities. In particular, the female singers perceived the socialist period as a time when they had achieved a certain level of social equality and experienced it as emancipatory. Employing the phenomenological approach and focusing on “subject-centered” ethnography, this study shows that individual memories are articulated in dynamics between personal experiences and the wider social and cultural environment. It does not try to essentialize relations of power and ideas of authority (both official and subaltern) but instead tries to look for memories that defend or dispute the very idea of authority. It argues for the potential of memories to express the polyvocal nature of social processes by challenging the concepts of consistency and fixity.
„Comrades” Ustvolskaia and Gubaidulina: On the Status of Women Composers in the Soviet Union
Summary / Abstract: In accordance with the newly-proclaimed ideology of class and gender “equality” in the years immediately after the establishment of the communist government in the Soviet Union, women – “comrades” – were encouraged to become active protagonists in the country’s social, political and cultural life. Yet, for a long time, the profession of a composer of art music remained almost exclusively male. In this paper I discuss the lives and careers of two Soviet female composers, Galina Ivanovna Ustvolskaia (1919-2006) and Sofia Asgatovna Gubaidulina (1931-), who both faced numerous challenges, being women in a “men’s profession”, and had to wait for many decades for their oeuvres to get the recognition that they deserved. Their status in the Soviet Union was further complicated by the fact that they both refused official commissions and decided against joining the Communist Party, but also by the non-commercial and uncompromising character of their music and the fact that their works were inspired by religious and mystical phenomena. The most important issue discussed here is the perception of Ustvolskaia as the more “masculine” and Gubaidulina as the more “feminine” composer. My goal is to demonstrate that not only their music but also the events from the two composers’ personal lives, their relationships, ethnicities, and many other factors, infl uenced the reception of their works (and their artistic personalities in general), both in the Soviet and in the broader European context.
Keywords: the Soviet Union, women composers, status, art music, symphony, avant-garde, religion, Galina Ustvolskaia, Sofia Gubaidulina, Dmitri Shostakovich
Theravada Buddhism and Gender in Indonesia: A (De)Colonized Encounter?
Summary / Abstract: This chapter represents a revised version of a paper composed and submitted as part of the course requirements in the duration of the author’s attendance of a PhD programme in Indonesia. Hence, the structure of the text reveals the thinking process, as well as the fieldwork method, in which the author devises her approach to exploring two Theravada Buddhist communities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from a (postcolonial) feminist perspective of her non-Western subjectivity. The latter is displayed through a genealogy of the historical conditions, hitherto academic training and wider political circumstances that informed her as an “outsider” to the Western liberal democracy, while the former is subjected to an ethnographic research designed to investigate the position of women in relation to theology, practice, and experience of Th eravada Buddhist religion in contemporary Indonesia. Th e analysis of the collected ethnographic data renders an account of the ways in which the ethnic background, religion-related policies in Indonesia, dominant Theravada theology and institutions, as well as gender politics all combine in structuring the lines along which women in Theravada Buddhism are allowed to perform certain roles in their lived religious lives, while remaining excluded from others. The analysis of sources, however, displays how transnational feminist practices support the attempts of certain female Buddhist communities in Indonesia to win and secure the roles, such as that of bikkhuni, which are denied not only by the (traditional) socio-cultural gender-regulating norms, but also by the institutionalised Buddhist theology in Indonesia. In addition, age seems to play a significant role in reshaping the traditional exclusionary lines that prevent women from becoming religious leaders or institutionalised religious workers, for the informants who took part in this project, consisting of undergraduate or postgraduate students, express their belief in a more gender-balanced Theravada Buddhist theology, practice and overall politics for their future.
Keywords: Theravada Buddhism, Indonesia, gender, feminism, colonialism, religion
Summary / Abstract: One of the most frequently quoted Bronze Age artefacts in reconstructing cult and religion in European Bronze Age is certainly the Dupljaja Cart found in southern Banat, western Serbia. Previous interpretations of the figurine in the cart, and the whole cart group itself, are based on an uncritical engendering of the figurine with de facto male genitals under a dress. Sex and gender of the figurine were never explicitly studied and as a consequence several interpretations emerged, some considering the figurine as male in female dress, some neglecting male genitals under the dress of the figurine and still considering it female. This work is based on the comparative contemporary Bronze Age figurine finds and dress ornaments and intends to more critically study sex/gender of the figurine in the cart using multiple sex/gender paradigm. It is discussed how different views of sex/gender of the figurine formed completely different, but in some ways similar narratives of the past. This work calls for a radical cross–dressing of this artefact and more explicitly formed theories of its embodied identity and queerness.
Keywords: the Dupljaja cart, the Bronze age, hybridism, queer theory, multiple sex/gender paradigm
Summary / Abstract: Social roles and relations are constructed upon the conceptualization of one’s own and the bodies of others and their complex interaction with cultural patterns which exists in a society. Medicine is one domain of culture that off ers evidence rich enough to help us understand the significance of the body as a cultural phenomenon. In the discourse of medicine and health issues, the body is understood as a subjective and intersubjective source of experience which constitutes specific representations and relations towards self and others. Adopting phenomenological and social constructivist approach, the intent was to analyse the interplay between different cultural meanings of body and diverse forms of knowledge of health and illness and their implications on particular sociocultural context. The interaction between two distinctive cultural settings of body, health and illness, and two different explanatory frameworks – one Cartesian and the other Far Eastern, produces a range of transformations on the levels of conceptualization, utilisation and representation of the body in contemporary Serbia.
Keywords: representation, body, embodiment, intersubjectivity, experience, Far East healing and meditation techniques, control, transformation