This panel explores international discourses as resources for reshaping local gender practices in the post-socialist world, as well as the influence and circulation of gender stereotypes within the regional scholarship.
Since the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe, observers of the transition have commented on the clash between western feminism and ideologies, regimes and practices of gender within the region. Social science studies of gender and feminism especially have focused on the conflicts, misunderstandings and unidirectional flows of ideas and resources from west to east. Moreover, this approach often assumes historically and geographically uniform gender regimes. In this regionally comparative workshop, we seek to more critically explore the diversity of gender in post-socialist contexts and provide a more nuanced interrogation of gender and feminism in the region. Particularly, the panel explores the ways in which international discourses shape local gender practices. Inspired by developments within postcolonial studies, we assert that gender within Eastern Europe represents the synthesis of gender ideologies and practices that are both historically rooted and internationally influenced. Anthropological investigation of gender can recast the discussion in terms that explore the multiple resources upon which particular social actors draw in order to create meaningful gender practices. We invite papers that approach gender in Eastern Europe from a variety of perspectives, including but not limited to those that problematise assumptions about the dominating roles of religious, ethnic or political ideologies in the shaping of gender identities and practices; those that examine the linkages between multiple levels of gender activism (local, national, international); and those that consider the role of pop/consumer culture in the creation of new gender practices. Ethnography offers insights into gender as a site for contest and reconfiguration of officially existing social and political gender regulations and power structures, and provides the tools to move beyond rigid assumptions of east versus west and offer insight into the interplay between the local and the global.