11 / Women And Politics.
Class Differences in Feminism?

17 – 19 May 2007   print this page

Conference organizers:

Snježana Prijić Samaržija, University of Rijeka, Croatia

Andrea Feldman, University of Zagreb, United States

Milica Antic-Gaber, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Durda Knezević, Womens Infoteka, Zagreb, Croatia

Uta Ruppert, University of Frankfurt, Germany

Mieke Verloo, University Nijmegen, Netherlands

Conference description:

A practical change of women's position in society requires action based on the understanding of the given power relations, domination and (re)production of social roles. The seminar 'Women and Politics' came out of the need for empirically founded analyses of social phenomena significant for women's position, as well as for the discussion grounded in such analysis.enska infoteka, an institution that systematically works on collecting and disseminating documentation and information regarding women, and at the same time cooperates with the network of activist womens non-governmental organizations, has chosen a thematic Women and Politics for a main pillar of the multiyear project of international conferences and seminar discussions. The term 'politics' is used in its wider sense - we regard as politics all spheres of social life in which women appear (or not). As our aim is to provide a comprehension needed for effective social change, the seminar is designed as a working session of female scientists, researches, politically engaged intellectuals and activists. Each year seminar deals with a different aspect of social life, which is relevant from the feminist perspective. The title for this year is 'Class Differences in Feminism' In the last two decades, the issue of class differences in feminism has been raised by the feminists coming from the Third World countries (Spivak, Jajawardena, Ray etc.). This discussion emerged as a result of the intensification of the processes of globalization (followed by unwelcome repercussions) on economical and political levels. European feminisms (both Western and Eastern) did not have this topic on their agenda for many reasons, above all, because feminism itself was (its vast majority) rooted in intellectual, thus middle class, social background. With the political changes after the fall of the so called communism/socialism, the situation has changed and we can notice class differences in feminism either within national scopes or in the relations between Eastern European feminism and feminism of "The Old Europe" (Western). In sociology, the term class has always had strictly economic connotations. Due to its Marxist origin it has become a rather unpopular term during the 90s. It is still wildly used in its broader meaning, as category, or a group with distinctive characteristics. Class in this sense is convenient as a subject of our topic because it allows us not to omit any social category, which may turn out to have a considerable impact on the social reality. However, political and cultural changes across Europe are induced by the demands from the sphere of economics. Therefore it seems to be wise not to let go the narrower, Marxist and Weberian, meaning of the term too easily. The fact is that the political left and the civil society have nowadays lost themselves and need to be redefined. For the feminist movement, this implies that different means and, to a lesser amount, aims, existing together under the joint name of the feminist movement, must be put within the frame of the current economic and political constellation. In this post-transitional moment, in time of the growing new world order, when goals, strategies and allies have to be articulated a-new, it is important to understand the social categories accountable for the differences within feminist approaches.During the 11th seminar 'Women and Politics' we intend to explore the ways in which the existence of the differences - in employment and type of economic sector, economic power, social status, type and degree of education etc. - among feminists, influence the access to knowledge and social power to women as a group in its own right. We seek to address the issues like:Which are the different feminist approaches relevant in the Eastern Europe today? Which differences in priorities and understanding of appropriate measures that need to be undertaken divide the feminist movement?To what extent do these differences emerge as a result of the different social backgrounds?Which of the social categories play the most important role in formation of the different feminist approaches? How is the feminist struggle influenced by the fact that one belongs to more than just one social category and that these categories intersect and produce complicated loops of privileged and deprived groups? Which of the marginalized groups and elites (with female members) are tend to develop their particular interests, leading to divergence of interests and mutual misunderstanding among feminists? On the opposite, in what situations does this divergence of membership expend the access to knowledge, power and wealth for women?To what extent is the division on the academic, professional activist and grass-root activist feminism becoming rigid, and why? On the opposite, in which fields do they successfully complement one another, and why? WE INVITE YOU to submit your contribution to the discussion centred on these questions (minimum 10 pages) on the email address of enska infoteka:zinfo@zamir.netPlease include in the application the name of your organisation and/or your fields of interest.The seminar is orientated toward researchers/scientists and activists from the Eastern Europe engaged with feminism and human rights of women, but it is open for all interested to give a contribution to the discussion.The criteria for the selection of the participants will be the following:1. Is the received paper concerned with the proposed topic?2. Scientific argumentation of the thesis3. A striving to cover the different approaches to the topic