International Feminist Gathering
*30 min of presentation time, 30 min of discussion, 10 min or less break, each day different moderator will lead the discussions
Day 1, 24th
Nationalist discourse in EE: between the great Family (Nation) and the great Evil (Other).
11:30 Introduction by moderator Viktorija Kolbesnikova, Social Center Emma
12:15 Carolina V., queer-feminist reading group Dysnomia. On Many Shapes of Rising Fascism in Romania
After the years of transition from communism to capitalism Romania has faced a general social crisis, with an enormous number of people migrating to western countries in search for jobs and a ”better life”. A few have succeeded to profit from the processes of the transition (such as privatisation), while for most of the workers the new capitalist neoliberal socio-economic system has failed in providing the secure life it promised. This has lead to massive migration and a lot of auto colonization in the general social discourse, a lot of Romanians feeling as the losers of Europe, as the losers of the new system, in comparison with the Westerners. At the same time, in the last three decades, Romanian right-wing intellectuals have built an anti-communist discourse based on nationalism, orthodoxism and “traditional romanian values” as a response to this societal crisis. They blamed not the capitalist system, nor the imperialist power relations that Western Europe was imposing on us, but the “communist mentality” and the communist era that kept the country from evolving and becoming the same as the Occidental Europe. The auto-colonization process combined with the socio-economic crisis and the anti-communist discourse have lead to different types of right-wing tendencies that are now rising in society. Part of this mentality is promoted by the fake social-democratic party currently in government, whose politics are also right wing conservative politics. The discourses vary from the liberal middle class meritocratic anti-corruption but also anti-poor, anti-roma, anti-social rights discourse to the religious conservatives fighting in different legal ways for the “traditional family” and against LGBT people, women’s rights, sex ed. Throughout my presentation I will explore the ways in which fascism evolved in this context and is developing at the present time.
13:30 Selin Cagatay. Gender politics and varieties of authoritarian populism: Comparative perspectives between EE and Turkey
We would like to talk about the current political conjuncture in Turkey and how it reflects on feminist and LGBTQ activism, and have a group discussion with participants about the implications of the similarities and differences between Turkey and EE for a broader struggle against capitalist heteropatriarchy.
15:10 Kalina Drenska. The public discourse around the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in Bulgaria: reactionary conservatism, liberal elitism and the missing leftist perspective.
The ratification of The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (a.k.a. the Istanbul Convention) was one of the hottest topics in the Bulgarian public sphere in the last eight months with extremely misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic voices becoming mainstream. While the fact that the opponents of the Istanbul Convention were openly using reactionary rhetorics that go against basic human and social rights is not surprising, some of the prominent defenders of the Convention – including some liberal university professors and NGOs – were using demophobic and self-colonizing clichés that represented Bulgarians as “barbaric” and “non-European” for fearing from the ratification of the Convention. At the same time, there were very few attempts to put domestic and gender-based violence in a broader socio-political context, to search for solidarity with people from all genders and to develop strong alternative narratives that are radically and unapologetically left-wing. In my presentation I will try to not only show the development of the discourse around the Convention and the tactics used by conservatives to block its ratification, but will also to give food for thought for developments and actions that are needed to counter further reactionary developments in the field of gender equality and solidarity.
16:20 Jana Kujundzic. Sexual violence and anti-gender initiatives in Croatia
Anti-gender initiatives and conservative actors working closely with the Croatian Catholic church wanted to prevent the ratification of the Istanbul Convention sideling the conversation from the victims of sexual violence and problem with the legislation and court practice to the transphobic and homophobic fear narratives of the so-called “gender ideology” meant to destroy traditional Croatian Catholic family. Oppositions to the ratifications are a part of the larger anti-gender movement in Europe and Latin America (Paternotte and Kuhar, 2017). In Croatian context, same conservative and religious actors had rallied in the recent past against the health and sexual education in schools and same-sex marriage.
17:30 Nóra Ugron & Suvi Hirvonen. Sinne jäi Muisto / There she remained – movie screening
“Sinne jäi Muisto“ / “There she remained“ is a DIY documentaristic film, in which two women tell their stories about the WW2 Karelia, seeking refuge and settling down in a new place somewhere else in Finland. The movie deals with the topics of being displaced, being resettled, cultural differences, war, the relationship between human and nonhuman beings during wartime, language differences, xenophobia and solidarity. A trailer of the film is available online: https://vimeo.com/238892993
Directed, written, filmed, edited: Nóra Ugron & Suvi Hirvonen
Interviewees: Terttu Järvinen & Senja Hirvonen
Day 2, 25th
Gender and Labour
11:15 Introduction by moderator Agne Bagdziunaite (Social Center Emma)
12:00 Artemisa Liarja. Making a Global Poverty Chain: Export Footwear Production in Eastern and Central Europe
My analysis notes how the Eastern and Central European (ECE) export footwear sector has experienced economic and social downgrading over the last three decades. Based on interviews with 209 workers from 12 factories across 6 countries, it analyses how intense gender-based labour exploitation – entailing dangerous working conditions and poverty pay – underpins the sector’s expansion and extra-regional integration. It draws upon recent strands of social reproduction theory to formulate and deploy a Global Poverty Chain (GPC) concept, which it argues helps illuminate dynamics of immiserating growth through gender-based exploitation. It concludes by discussing the prevalence of GPC’s in the world economy, and how they challenge much value chain analysis.
13:10 Eglė Ambrasaitė. On situation of sewing factory “Lankesa” (1974-1999) and now
Presentation and screening of the excerpts from the interviews (“Lankesa: Acceleration”) (In 2014, the vision of the sewing bar “Lankesa“ was created by Eglė Ambrasaitė as an archive, an installation that preserves the material memory of this experimental factory, while “Lankesa: Acceleration”, as its continuation, a series of documentary video and audio recordings, seeks to encipher and to activate the narratives of the past by assembling the witnesses – a labour force of the sewing bar,- its storekeepers and tailors, mechanics and directors. By making an assumption that capitalism in the era of Soviet Union and during a period of transition is latent and encoded with specific keywords, “Lankesa: Acceleration” aims to assist in unfolding the fantômas’ic figure, which questions a scission of communism (in this case – suits for milkmaids) and capitalism (in this case – Levi’s jeans). )
15:10 Jolanta Bielskienė. “Austerity Policies in Lithuania: impact on women‘s socio-economic situation. Is it still relevant?”
The presentation will be based on research conducted in 2017. It will raise questions about how gender equality correlates with class inequality, how the fact, that Lithuanian politics with women in top political positions balance economic positions in relation with gender. Also, how feminist movement in Lithuania addresses class issues.
17:00 Marina, from the Year01-videocollective. Huligladni – The February 2014 protests in Bosnia-Herzegovina
In February 2014, the biggest social movement since the 1992-95 war started in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It began in solidarity with the workers of privatized factories in Tuzla who were attacked by the police as they were protesting to get their unpaid wages. A few days later, the movement had spread to the whole of Bosnia and several government buildings were in flames. Hundreds of people started to organise in assemblies in more than 20 towns, putting radically in question the nationalist frameworks that had been imposed on them since the war. However, three months after, the movement had lost a lot of its momentum.
In “Huligladni – The February 2014 protests in Bosnia-Herzegovina“, the Year01 Videocollective, that was in Bosnia during the first week of the revolt and returned to the country eight months later, presents the unfolding of these events. To try to understand what ignited the protests, but also which limits and contradictions finally brought the movement to an end.
19:00 Gabo & Karo, DIY handmade Stickers workshop
Of course, the themes are: anarchist/feminist/anticapitalist/antifascist/queer
Do you have something you want to say and stick it to the walls, poles etc. of your city? Let’s make it happen! Stickers offer a simple and playful format for expressing politics. We offer to show some DIY methods and techniques on how to design and produce them. Afterwards, you can create your own rad stickers and stick them on wherever you like (including your neighbors toilet or the forehead of your friend).
Art diplomas aren’t needed. All are welcome!
22:00 Disco with Steroidai@ Emma social center
Day 3, 26th
Feminism in EE, what is to be done?
11:15 Introduction by moderator Asta Volunge (Social Center Emma)
11:45 Kristina Cajkovicova. Reflection about Czech feminist movement
I want to briefly introduce feminist movement in Czech lands and Czechoslovakia during 20th century and focus more on the developments after 89. I want to show, that the legacy of feminism is embedded in Czech liberal thought which supports more liberal white feminism. At the end I want to think about solidarity (or lack thereof and consequently lack of intersectional initiatives ) in feminist movement nowadays.
12:50 Anna Adamczyk, Kinga Stanczuk, from political party “Razem”. Black Protest. Reinventing feminist resistance in Poland
15:10 Hedvika Janeckova. Navigating through the shite (discussion)
Navigating through anti-feminism, the far right politics and neoliberalism across Eastern Europe with a view of potential transnational feminist coalition-building is a complex task of generalizing and specifying. Recently, a new scholarship emerged underscoring the emergence of anti-gender movements across the globe, including in a number of – but not all – Eastern European countries. While these groups share a number of similarities (e.g. intersecting with right-wing populism), they also differ in nature, social and political position, use of resources and strategies. Similarly, one could argue that right wing sentiments and constitutive actors in some ways resemble, but differ in many others. What do we mean by the Right in Eastern Europe in times of populism and pertaining neoliberal order anyway? Throughout this discussion session, I hope we could deconstruct some of these buzz words as well as work towards contextualisation and complexification of these topics that are not only needed analytically, but are politically essential to disentangle the anti-feminist (anti-social justice) house in Eastern Europe.
Final Discussion forum: what is to be done? Contouring the conference, building a network.
Finish at 18:00.
Goodbye for now 🙂