This course discusses theoretical, methodological, and practical issues in the cultural anthropology of gender, with a regional focus on the Balkans. It is structured around three topics: "Production of Knowledge about Gender in the Balkans"; "Gender, (Post)Socialism, and Nationalism"; and "Intersectionality and LGBT Activism in the Balkans".
In the first topic, "Production of Knowledge about Gender in the Balkans", we explore how gender was discussed in various scholarly, journalist, and policy narratives about the Balkans in the West. Dominant understanding of the Balkans as an ambiguous, neither modern, nor traditional region were encouraged by images of militarized and aggressive masculinity, victimized and silent femininity, and traditional cross-dressing practices such as sworn virgins. The first topic focuses on anthropological approaches to the key concepts of the course, including gender, Balkans, modernity, tradition, and sworn virgins.
In the second part of the course, "Gender, (Post)Socialism, and Nationalism", we look at how gender relations transformed in the course of the twentieth century in the Balkans. Postwar and postsocialist transformation affected gender, kinship, and sexuality in complex ways. We will explore debates between Western and Yugoslav feminists on agency, civil society, and the role of the state in women"s movement.
In the third part of the course, "Intersectionality and LGBT Activism in the Balkans", we learn how struggles over gender and sexual rights affect the process of Europeanization in the Balkans (and vice versa). Since the 1990s, queer activism sometimes challenged and sometimes reproduced problematic links that placed "Balkans", "heterosexuality", "militarized masculinity" on the one side and "Europe", "minority sexualities", and "alternative gender norms" on another. The third part of the course also looks at how economic inequality becomes entangled with cultural recognition of gender and sexual rights.
The course introduces students to some of the key questions in the cultural anthropology of gender through historical and ethnographic accounts focused on the Balkans. It also outlines how gender and sexual practices shaped - and were shaped by - different political projects, including socialism, nationalism, war, postwar reconciliation, postsocialist transformation, and Europeanization.
By the end of the course, students will be able to analyze gender politics in contemporary Europe and beyond; to recognize and critically assess instances of balkanist and orientalist discourses in journalist, travel, policy, and other texts; as well as to understand socio-political transformations through the lens of gender and sexuality.