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Disentangling from Communism. Poland’s Feminist Literary Studies Struggling for Acceptability


Seiler, Nina (2015). Disentangling from Communism. Poland’s Feminist Literary Studies Struggling for Acceptability. In: Neoliberal Discourse and Gender Equality, Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, North Cyprus, 25 March 2015 - 27 March 2015, 73-82.

Abstract

The 1989 collapse of the Polish socialist system had several impacts on the country’s gender discourse. Not only did the winners of the situation voice the return to a „normal“ gender order, but also the legal grounds shifted with the ban on abortion in 1993 and the dismissal of a parity law in 2003. Even though this backlash evoked social movements and academic interest in gender issues, these new initiatives faced oppositions: Feminism was strongly connoted with communism, a bogey which had only just been expelled. In order to avoid being overly stigmatised, academic research developed strategies to partly adapt to current social discourses.
As the feminist literary discourse developed, theoretical inputs were brought in from the so-called West. This helped to distance research from „Soviet“ state feminism branded ideologically intolerable. The exchange of the term ‚feminism‘ by ‚gender‘, the latter perceived as more objective and ideologically unsuspicious, helped „gender studies“ to take off academically. Nonetheless, reservations as to the objectivity of scholarly output might be more present in post-socialist societies.
Furthermore, the topic of socialism or this epoch’s literature were avoided wholly in feminist literary studies. Instead, research interest was directed to the more distant past, e.g. the interwar period, by which means feminist thought was located in the Polish past itself. These strategies positioned feminist scholars in a debate about the national past, present, and future of society. In order not to argue beyond acknowledgement, in some respects feminists followed neoliberal, individualist discourses, calling not so much for a strong „common female consciousness“ but rather for individual, liberal solutions. These theses will be elaborated by drawing upon text material from literary studies, aided by recent critical voices in Poland‘s feminism.

Abstract

The 1989 collapse of the Polish socialist system had several impacts on the country’s gender discourse. Not only did the winners of the situation voice the return to a „normal“ gender order, but also the legal grounds shifted with the ban on abortion in 1993 and the dismissal of a parity law in 2003. Even though this backlash evoked social movements and academic interest in gender issues, these new initiatives faced oppositions: Feminism was strongly connoted with communism, a bogey which had only just been expelled. In order to avoid being overly stigmatised, academic research developed strategies to partly adapt to current social discourses.
As the feminist literary discourse developed, theoretical inputs were brought in from the so-called West. This helped to distance research from „Soviet“ state feminism branded ideologically intolerable. The exchange of the term ‚feminism‘ by ‚gender‘, the latter perceived as more objective and ideologically unsuspicious, helped „gender studies“ to take off academically. Nonetheless, reservations as to the objectivity of scholarly output might be more present in post-socialist societies.
Furthermore, the topic of socialism or this epoch’s literature were avoided wholly in feminist literary studies. Instead, research interest was directed to the more distant past, e.g. the interwar period, by which means feminist thought was located in the Polish past itself. These strategies positioned feminist scholars in a debate about the national past, present, and future of society. In order not to argue beyond acknowledgement, in some respects feminists followed neoliberal, individualist discourses, calling not so much for a strong „common female consciousness“ but rather for individual, liberal solutions. These theses will be elaborated by drawing upon text material from literary studies, aided by recent critical voices in Poland‘s feminism.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Slavonic Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
890 Other literatures
Language:English
Event End Date:27 March 2015
Deposited On:20 Jan 2016 13:59
Last Modified:07 Apr 2017 02:41
Publisher:Eastern Mediterranean University Press
Number:2
Official URL:http://cws.emu.edu.tr/ndge2015/eng/home.htm

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