Women’s emancipation and human emancipation: new approaches to an old question

International Conference, Budapest, ELTE 11 November, 2015

ELTE, Gólyavár, Maria Theresia-room
1088 Múzeum krt. 6-8.


9 a.m.  
Opening remarks:
József Juhász (Head of Eastern European History Department, ELTE)
Joanna Gwiazdecka (RLS Warsaw)
Eszter Bartha(Eszmélet)

9.15 – 11.00 a.m.

Section One

Rethinking the history of women’s activism and human emancipation

Francisca de Haan, Understanding “Women’s Issues as Central to the International Left’s Agenda,” or, a Short History of the Women’s International Democratic Federation

Katarzyna Bielińska-Kowalewska, Partizanke and Powstanki: The Female Participants in the Yugoslav Partisan Movement and the Warsaw Uprising in the Contemporary Polish and Post-Yugoslav Feminist Discourse

Susan Zimmermann, Hungarian Trade Union Women and the Struggle for Emancipation at the Workplace, 1965-1980s

Chair: Eszter Bartha (Eszmélet)

11.15 a.m. – 12.45 p.m.

Section Two

Rethinking concepts of women’s liberation

Mária Adamik, Can Talcott Parsons be silenced?

Ulrike Ziemer, Armenian women’s private and public agency: challenging patriarchy and Western feminisms

Joó Mária, Recognition and liberation

Chair: Eszter Bartha (Eszmélet)

Lunch break

2 p.m. – 3.45 p.m.

Section Three

Social reproduction and human emancipation

Jaroslaw Wojtas, Demanding the impossible? Emancipatory movements in Poland

Andrew Ryder, Althusser, Vogel, and Butler: The Question of Gender and Social Reproduction

Márk Horváth, Ádám Lovász, Critical asexuality: Queerness and Non-reproduction

Chair: Éva nagy (Eszmélet)

4 p.m. – 5.45 p.m.

Section Four

New Challenges to the combined project of women’s and human emancipation

Eszter Kováts, Anti-gender movements in Europe: A challenge for the Left

Paulina Berlińska, Woman and work: Democratization versus conservative backlash against women’s rights in Poland after 1989

Anikó Félix, Women’s emancipation on the far-right

Chair:  Éva Nagy (Eszmélet)


In ELTE Library Club (Múzeum krt. 4.)

6 p.m. Reception

7.00 p.m.

Women’s Emancipation and Human Emancipation: Which New Approaches?
Invited Speakers:  Anna Alexandrov, Andrea Alföldi, Anikó Gregor, Kathleen Livingstone, Dagmar Švendová, A Helyzet Workgroup, Absentology Workgroup, Eszmélet 

The Conference is organized by Eszmelet (http://www.eszmelet.hu/en/), a quarterly journal for social critique and culture, and the Doctoral Program of 19th and 20th Eastern European History at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, and supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Warsaw.

The language of the conference is English and Hungarian (translation will be provided).

After 2008, there has been a global revival of left-wing views and in some regions of the world a renewed increase of their influence. It is therefore time to rethink the past and present of the various projects of women’s emancipation. Whereas the old left had always subordinated the ‘women’s question’ to the project of class liberation, mainstream post-1989 feminism on the other hand has prioritized progressive gender policies over other elements of the struggle for social transformation, and thus separated the quest for gender equality from the systemic question. In other words, within these political currents various axes of oppression have been constructed as subordinated to each other rather than mutually constitutive. Both feminist and leftist activism and theorizing have suffered from the ensuing political and intellectual tensions. While the new left has tolerated feminism rather than building sustained coalitions, mainstream feminism has been adopted into capitalist democracy. Scholarly analysis of various projects of women’s emancipation in the present and past more often than not got caught up in the old partisan struggles over hierarchies of oppression.

At this conference we probe new approaches to the analysis of struggles for women’s emancipation, which overcome these difficulties. The papers, comments and the roundtable discussion aim to critically interrogate how gender, class, ethnicity, and global inequality together have shaped women’s lives, and how gendered social struggle has been shaped by these and other elements of hierarchical social difference. The questions addressed include: how has the situation of women in Hungary, in the labour market and in the household, been shaped in the past 25 years by gender, class, ethnic and global difference, and how have women struggled to overcome these intersecting inequalities? How do those young activists who seek to bring together feminism and the struggle for social emancipation for all in post-socialist Hungary challenge oppression in their daily activism and conceptually, which is organized along many axes of hierarchical difference? How can we rethink productively the history of women’s and gender policies and activism in the pre-1989 state-socialist world when many women and men were convinced that class-emancipation was already well under way? How can we rethink, in a productive manner, the often hostile debate in Eastern Europe after 1989 about ‘Western’ feminism, and the reluctance of the new left to seriously engage with the challenge of struggles for women’s emancipation?