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Dance mania and diplomatic parleying
In L'Homme, sets the historical record straight on women at the Congress of Vienna;
Soundings speaks to Nancy Fraser about a new wave of feminism; Genero
celebrates Audre Lorde's feminist biomythography; Kultura Liberalna discusses the
fourth revolution with Adrian Wooldridge; Osteuropa slams the silence of German
specialists on Russia's interference in eastern Ukraine; Krytyka notes the rise of
Ukrainian historians as public intellectuals; and Ord&Bild explores the violence in
never being seen for who you really are.
L'Homme 2/2014
Until Hazel Rosenstrauch's Congress mit Damen ("Congress
with ladies"), published in German last year to great acclaim,
one might have been forgiven for thinking that diplomacy at
the Congress of Vienna of 1814/15 was conducted solely
among men, with women having no influence on the
reorganization of Europe. However, as Glenda Sluga points
out in L'Homme (Austria), the Austrian historian Hilde Spiel
had already attempted to put the historical record straight in the 1960s. As
Spiel wrote at the time:
"Never before −− or after −− has a group of statesmen and politicians,
assembled solely and exclusively to deal with matters of commonweal interest,
laboured so extensively and decisively under the influence of women −− not in
Münster, nor in Rastatt, not in Versailles, nor yet in San Francisco."
Two aristocrats from the Russian empire are of particular interest to Sluga: the
Duchess of Sagan and Princess Katharine Bagration. The comparatively
"innocent" bourgeois Anna Lullin−Eynard from Geneva also played a not
insignificant part, including as the only woman invited to a diplomatic dinner
by Talleyrand. Sluga considers these three "ambassadrices of a new kind,
assisting their husbands in the soft democracy that was to become a
fundamental part of modern international politics". Moreover:
"Adding these women to the history of the Congress goes some way to
reconnecting the history of 'dance mania' with the history of diplomatic
parleying that took place in ballrooms as much as rooms of state, where
statesmen and supplicants gathered at the rooms of the female leaders of
Viennese society, and men and women engaged the pressing politics at stake in
Women's revolutionary activism: In 1918, a century after the Congress of
Vienna, Countess Károlyi and Rosika Schwimmer formed the women's
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debating club in Hungary. For Judith Szapor, this constitutes "a unique and
previously unexplored case of women's activism" in the era of central
European revolutions. The club served as a meeting place for politically active
women, with the fight for women's suffrage being a priority.
"The Women's Club foreshadowed and reflected the fundamental political
changes in women's politics and politics at large; and as an institution
straddling the private and the public, it demonstrated the limits of women's
activism even in revolutionary times."
The full table of contents of L'Homme 2/2014
Soundings 58 (2014)
In one of several articles in Soundings (UK), bridging the gaps
between different generations of feminist thinkers, Nancy
Fraser explains how "ideas from the university flowed very
easily into the movement and vice−versa" during the era of
second−wave feminism. But "when feminism became
academicized, it was harder to make these links".
Nevertheless, Fraser suspects that, given the hunger for new
thinking in all arenas after the 2008 crash, this is changing once again.
Intergenerational feminism: Alison Winch considers the risk that feminism
will become "an archived and reified movement":
"Postfeminist culture frames feminism as no longer relevant, as a thing of the
past, because 'gender equality' has become common sense. This is of course a
'mystique': its poster girls are middle−class, white, thin, heteronormative,
able−bodied. And it is reinforced by the health and beauty industries, as well
as the mainstream media, which fetishize a particular type of classed and raced
youthfulness as a desirable commodity."
"Participating in this new sexual contract is likely to be self−destructive and
divisive", concludes Winch, "not just because hypervisibility is highly
selective and short−term (it only lasts until youthful beauty fades), but because
the lack of opportunities for reward throughout a woman's lifetime, now made
worse by cuts to state provision, exposes the contract as a lie."
All the more need then for "a more robust infrastructure" capable of supporting
an intergenerational feminism and overcoming tensions such as those
stemming from the perceived online/offline divide. Many young activists "first
cut their teeth on in feminist digital culture", forging new alliances online via
UK netmagazines such as the f word and Feminist Times and, in the US,
Jezebel, Feministing and Racialicious.
International relations: Ahead of Soundings' Kilburn Manifesto Conference
next month, the journal carries a further instalment of the manifesto, entitled
"Rethinking the neoliberal world order".
The full table of contents of Soundings 58 (2014)
Genero 18 (2014)
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There's a focus on African−American feminism in Genero
(Serbia). Emilia Epstajn of the Museum of African Art in
Belgrade looks at the construction of gender and race from
1851 onward, the year that Sojourner Truth (born into slavery
c. 1797) delivered her famous speech "Ain't I a Woman?" at
the Ohio Women's Rights Convention. And Maja Milatovic
celebrates Audre Lorde's biomythography Zami: A New
Spelling of My Name (1982).
Milatovic considers Lorde's "visionary feminist text" as offering "the tools for
rebuilding, reimagining and reclaiming marginalized subjectivities across
differences". A project already suggested the quotation with which Milatovic
prefaces her article, taken from Lorde's essay "The master's tools will never
dismantle the master's house", published two years after Zami:
"In a world of possibility for us all, our personal visions help lay the
groundwork for political action. The failure of academic feminists to recognize
difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal
lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower."
As Lorde herself once remarked, Zami counters the "assumption that the
herstory and myth of white women is the legitimate and sole herstory and myth
of all women to call upon for power and background".
Milatovic's conclusion: "Destabilizing whiteness in spaces of contestation thus
enables mutual recognition, dialogue and growth" and "re−centring the work of
black feminists in discussions on racism and thus challenging the dominance
and centrality of white scholarship" is the way forward.
Also: Nada Bobicic's analysis of essays and philosophical fragments by
Ksenija Atanasijevic, one of first female professors at Belgrade University.
The full table of contents of Genero 18 (2014)
Kultura Liberalna 311 (2014)
Last year, Economist writer Adrian Wooldridge published
The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the
State, his sixth book with co−author John Micklethwait.
(Micklethwait was editor−in−chief of The Economist, until
stepping down to make way for Zanny Minton Beddoes, the
first female editor to head up the weekly magazine since it
was founded over 170 years ago. Beddoes takes up the reins
next week.)
The book provides the background to Lukasz Pawlowski's interview with
Wooldridge in Kultura Liberalna (Poland). Wooldridge critiques
free−marketeers for their willingness to shrink or even get rid of the state,
suggesting that if this is what they really want, they go and sample life in
Somalia where the state is virtually absent. He also dismisses the Left's
reluctance to reform the state for fear of subverting it.
Indeed, Wooldridge remains optimistic about the state's capacity to adapt so
that it can head off the rise of radical political parties throughout Europe:
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"I think that the future trend will be towards taking power away from
transnational institutions because they are divorced from people's lives, too
distant and too big. People want something they can identify with, culturally
and politically."
The full table of contents of Kultura Liberalna 311 (2014)
Osteuropa 9−10/2014
The weekend's shelling of Mariupol marked a new escalation
of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as the number of internally
displaced persons in the country swiftly approaches a million.
Osteuropa (Germany) devotes a timely issue to the war in
Editors Manfred Sapper and Volker Weichsel recommend, together with
contributors such as Andreas Heinemann−Grüder, nothing less than a "robust
international mission to secure the lines for a ceasefire. [...] Only then will
Russia be deprived of the dominance that allows it to escalate the conflict."
The EU's strategy: Thomas Vogel draws attention to the way in which
individual member states' bilateral relations with Russia have consistently
compromised any attempts to forge a coherent policy at European Union level
concerning Russia. The EU will have to deal with this, says Vogel, if it is to
convey exactly what is expected of Russia as a "strategic partner", the
oft−repeated phrase found in numerous official documents. Only then might
member states feel any obligation to adhere to a common policy.
The silence of German experts: Alluding to Horkheimer Anna Veronika
Wendland remarks provocatively: "Whoever is not prepared to speak about
Russia should also remain silent about Ukraine. And yet, this mixture of
violence beyond national borders, organized crime and local government
corruption, conducted under the aegis of a ragbag of rightwing ideologies and
in the name of institutions such as the 'strong state' and the Moscow patriarchy:
all this requires explaining and clear political statements. But to cut to the
chase: obviously recognized specialists themselves fear delivering any such
It's this, says Wendland, that allows German intellectuals and certain
politicians on the Left to get away with geopolitical over−simplifications and
the superficial presentation of local specificities, rather than delving into
Ukrainian cultural life as being at the crossroads of European cultures and
treating Ukrainians as capable of making their own history. Perhaps then a
more severe view would finally be taken of Russian interference in the
The full table of contents of Osteuropa 9−10/2014
Krytyka 5−6/2014
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In Krytyka (Ukraine), Julia Ioffe demands that some thought be
given to possible outcomes, should western sanctions bring
about Putin's fall:
"Before the West celebrates the possibility of Putin being forced from the
throne, we should consider what might come after him. This is not an
argument against sanctions or against political change in Russia. But the
country's history tells us that prolonged economic malaise often brings about
political turmoil, the result of which has never been a democratic Russia."
The presence of the past in public life: Historian Volodymyr Sklokin
discusses the rise of Ukrainian historians as public intellectuals. The absence
of the term "intelligentsia" in most discussions of the transformation of the
Ukrainian intellectual community after 1991 hints at the direction that the
newly established public sphere has taken, bringing the role of the historian to
the forefront of public life:
"As a scholar, a historian has to discover the truth about the past. As an
intellectual, a historian is responsible for creating and sustaining a public
sphere in which a public discussion about politics takes place −− a discussion
that results in the development of critical public opinion".
Expert vs dilettante: Ukrainian musicologist Olesya Naydiuk challenges the
widespread opposition between "a music critic as an expert" and "a music
journalist as a dilettante". The debate has received growing attention following
the publication of Lidiya Melnyk's book Music Journalism: Theory, History,
Strategies (2013, in Ukrainian), which Naydiuk reviews in her article. The title
is the latest contribution to a scene that first emerged in 1989, when a
department of music criticism was established at the Kyiv Conservatory.
The full table of contents of Krytyka 5−6/2014
Ord&Bild 3−4 (2014)
Ord&Bild (Sweden) devotes an issue to violence as seen,
among other places, on the streets of Stockholm in 2013, or
discussed in European twentieth−century philosophy or
analysed in terms of the psychopathology of colonialism.
Unreported violence: Sociologist Evin Ismail publishes a poetically charged
text on the unreported violence that preceded the riots in the Stockholm
multi−ethnic suburb of Husby in May 2013. With iterative insistence, Ismail
discusses the violence inherent in segregation, class struggle and racism: "I
want to talk about the violence in being surveilled, stopped and searched. I
want to talk about the violence in never being seen for who you really are."
The colonial world is violence: Discussing the role of violence in imperialism
and western democracy, Patricia Lorenzoni (incoming Ord&Bild editor
recently appointed together with Ann Ighe) writes: "In the heyday of
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imperialism, the expansion of European civilization was often understood as
synonymous with peace. If civilization and violence are exclusive concepts,
violence is defeated by the expansion of civilization −− even when it is done
by military means." According to Lorenzoni there is a crucial difference
between Hannah Arendt's and Walter Benjamin's discussions on violence and
Frantz Fanon's analysis. Whereas Arendt and Benjamin focus on a discrete
conceptual analysis, Fanon insists that violence permeates all of society: "The
colonial world is violence".
Short story: In "City of Black Sheriffs" by Steve Sem−Sandberg, a Swedish
journalist recounts memories of his journeys to Milovice, a city controlled by
the black sheriffs. But attempting to document and bring to life the city's dark
past, the narrator comes to question the responsibility of the writer. "The only
thing you can hope for", he states, "is to manage to freeze life just for a
moment, to capture one day, one hour, when your life was protected and
Also: Photographer Katarina Despotovic captures the expansion of
Gothenburg city centre in black and white prints; and Catharina Thörn on
gentrification and urban frontiers.
The full table of contents of Ord&Bild 3−4 (2014)
Published 2015−01−28
Original in English
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