Gender Politics and Everyday Life in State Socialist Eastern and Central Europe

Hardcover | November 15, 2009

EditorShana Penn, Jill Massino

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Did socialism liberate women? Twenty years after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe this collection of essays from European and North American scholars examines socialist policies and women's everyday lives to demonstrate that this question cannot be answered with an emphatic “no,” but has multiple answers that require attending to many voices and stories.  Focusing on a range of issues--such as worker identity, marital and family relations, consumer culture, leisure, sexuality, reproduction, activism, and resistance--Gender Politics and Everyday Life reveals that women experienced socialism in diverse, ambiguous, and in some cases empowering ways. These nuanced and multidisciplinary investigations provide new depth to the study of state policy, gender relations, and women’s and men’s lives, illustrating that there is no simple, coherent narrative of life under state socialism, but rather multiple, competing, and often  contradictory ones.

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Did socialism liberate women? Twenty years after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe this collection of essays from European and North American scholars examines socialist policies and women's everyday lives to demonstrate that this question cannot be answered with an emphatic “no,” but has multiple answers that require attendi...

Shana Penn is a visiting scholar in Jewish studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland (2005), which was awarded the Heldt Prize for Best Book in Slavic/East European/Eurasian/Women’s Studies by the Association of Women in Slavi...

other books by Shana Penn

Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.75 inPublished:November 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230613004

ISBN - 13:9780230613003

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Gender Politics and Everyday Life in State Socialist Eastern and Central Europe--Jill Massino and Shana Penn * PART I: WORK, ACTIVISM, AND IDENTITY * Workers under Construction: Gender, Identity, and Women’s Experiences of Work in State Socialist Romania--Jill Massino * “My Work, My Family, and My Car”: Women’s Memories of Work, Consumerism, and Leisure in Socialist Hungary--Eszter Zsófia Tóth * “Where Do You Think I Learned How to Style My Own Hair?” Gender and Everyday Lives of Women Activists in Poland’s League of Women--Basia Nowak * Translating Equality between Women and Men across Cold War Divides: Women Activists from Hungary and Romania and the Creation of International Women’s Year--Raluca Maria Popa * PART II: SEX, REPRODUCTION, FAMILY RELATIONS, AND DOMESTIC SPACE * “The Most Natural Function of Women”: Ambiguous Party Policies and Female Experiences in Socialist Bulgaria--Ulf Brunnbauer * Sex, Divorce, and Women’s Waged Work: Private Lives and State Policy in the Early German Democratic Republic-- Donna Harsch * Women’s Status and Wife-beating: Ideology and Practice under State Socialism in Poland, Romania, and Hungary--Isabel Marcus * How the Church Became the State: The Catholic Regime and Reproductive Rights and Policies in State Socialist Poland--Joanna Z. Mishtal * Designing for the Socialist Family: The Evolution of Housing Types in Early Postwar Czechoslovakia--Kimberly Elman Zarecor * PART III: CONSUMPTION, LEISURE, AND CULTURE * “Are You a Modern Girl?”: Consumer Culture and Young Women in 1960s Poland--Malgorzata Fidelis * “When We Were Walking Down the Road and Singing”: Rural Women’s Memories of Socialism in Serbia--Ana Hofman * PART IV: GENDER AND RESISTANCE * Writing Themselves into History: Two Feminists Recall Their Political Development in the People’s Republic of Poland--Shana Penn

Editorial Reviews

“The commonly held view that women in Communist Eastern Europe uniformly suffered under the double or triple burden of paid work, household duties, and child care gets a more nuanced examination in this collection. Many essays are based on interviews with women who lived through those years and reveal their lives in all their complexity…overall the collection is rewarding for its insights and exposure of women’s lived experiences.”—Publisher’s Weekly“This book enriches our understanding of the legacies of state socialism and the ways in which gender in these societies even today continues to be shaped by the living practices of the past. This is a robust and broad-ranging set of studies that remind us not only of the failures of socialism but also alert us to the ways in which women’s lives were changed and indeed empowered because of the opportunities and challenges of that era.”--Jean C. Robinson, Professor of Political Science, Indiana University“This volume offers a comprehensive and unique portrait of women living under socialism, capturing in a distinctive way the multiplicity of tensions in everyday life that provided new opportunities and resources to women (and for that matter, to men also), in an omnipresent state that forced upon them certain ideologies and limitations. This volume provides an extraordinary opportunity to hear women’s voices and learn through their lives about the ambiguities of socialism.”--Joanna Regulska, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Geography, Rutgers University