Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe

Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe

Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe

Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe

Synopsis

In this wide-ranging study of women's and gender issues in the pre- and post-1989 Czech Republic, contributors engage with current feminist debates and theories of nation and identity to examine the historical and cultural transformations of Czech feminism. This collection of essays by leading scholars, artists, and activists, explores such topics as reproductive rights, state socialist welfare provisions, Czech women's NGOs, anarchofeminism, human trafficking, LGBT politics, masculinity, feminist art, among others. Foregrounding experiences of women and sexual and ethnic minorities in the Czech Republic, the contributors raise important questions about the transfer of feminist concepts across languages and cultures. As the economic orthodoxy of the European Union threatens to occlude relevant stories of the different national communities comprising the Eurozone, this book contributes to the understanding of the diverse origins from which something like a European community arises.

Excerpt

Iveta Jusová

It was in the late 1980s, while studying British and Czech literatures at Palacký University in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia, that I first became aware of feminism and decided to focus my undergraduate thesis on U.S. and British feminist theory. the country was still a socialist state, and feminism was decidedly not considered an appropriate subject of study, nor were there any resources readily available on this topic. But I was in luck. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the Iron Curtain was about to come apart. Through the revolutionary months of 1989, I became acquainted with one of the few scholar-activists in the country who could understand my hunger for anything feminist and could help me with my research: Jiřina Šiklová, the coeditor of this volume. I wrote my thesis in 1990 using the books available at the Gender Studies Library set up in Jiřina’s famous apartment-turned–Gender Studies Centre in Prague, likely one of that facility’s first beneficiaries. Traveling between Olomouc and Prague to visit the library and center, it did not take me long to develop admiration for the energetic Šiklová.

The early 1990s were times of heated feminist exchanges and public discussions about feminism, and Šiklová’s role in making these debates both compelling and possible cannot be overstated. in the context of many prominent male Czech émigrés returning from the West, all nearly uniformly having only derogatory things to say about “feminist ideologues,” Šiklová drew on the considerable respect that she wielded with the Czech public (as a dissident and Charta 77 signatory) to speak favorably about women’s issues. At the same time, in perceiving mismatches between then widely assumed universals prevalent in Western feminist discourse and the specific situation of the Czech post-socialist context, Šiklová, along with Jana Hradílková, Hana Havelková . . .

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