Don Juan Archiv - Wien, Forschungsverlag
Südosteuropastudien IV - Teil 2

ABSTRACTS der Vorlesungsreihe Südosteuropastudien IV: Musik, Theater, Kultur


Suzana Milevska (Skopje)
The lack and its “supplement”: The intersection of nation and gender in public space through the magnifying glass of a feminist

I want to address different invariants, loops, gridlocks and dead ends of representation of different genders and sexualities in the public spaces in post-socialist transitional societies. My questions will address the intersectionality and deadlocks – how the outburst of recent nationalism, poverty, right-wing politics and racism in post-socialist societies affected the representation of women in public space under the gust of rampant neo-liberalism. The main aim of this lecture is to address and deconstruct the intersection of nation, gender and race in the realms of symbolic, imaginary and “real” when discussing memorials, monuments and other sculptures in the public spaces in southeast Europe.
The focus will be put on the imbalance between male and female figures which dominates the public spaces and on the way how visual representation constructs, reinforces and perpetuates a visual culture and public space dominated by masculinity, aggression, violence and militant tropes. I will offer an analysis of what is lacking (or erased, emptied out, renamed) through the magnifying glass of feminism. The obvious strategy of leaving out the visual representations of the woman’s societal role from public spaces and what is used as a “supplement”: the, pregnant or objectified and eroticized representations of women will enable me to bring in the analysis of the notion of patriarchy as a prevailing phenomenon in visual culture. I will particularly refer to the case study of the recently built monumental and public sculptures in the context of the governmental urban project “Skopje 2014” (in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia). The attempt to re-write history through rapid transformations of the urban and architectural design in the main city square and other public spaces and thus to compensate for the incomplete, faulty, national identity in the state that is itself treated as “rogue” (taking into account the “name issue”) resulted with an official representation of women’s societal role (suggested by this monumental governmental project) that is stereotypical and subsumed under the rubric of subordinated and passive receptacle.


Jana Dolečki (Universität Wien)
Exit stage left: on presence and absence of women in wartime theatre (Croatia, 1991–1995)

Although hardly apt for any attempt of generalization, as a socio-political phenomena, a war often denotes a wider social homogeneity and consent, intrinsically implying the patriarchal culture and the rule of hegemonic masculinity that is constructed upon ideals of masculine heroism. The war fought on the territory of Croatia (extending from 1991 till 1995) showed high congruence to this notion, presented and perceived by its main perpetrators as a defensive homeland war fought with the main goal of creating an independent state based on a centuries long national aspiration of gaining national sovereignty, it featured numerous examples of following patriarchal codes of the (re)imagined national community.
But as the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s were conflicts fought for ethnically exclusive territories, it was the ethnicity that became the preferred identity of the wartime reality, defining so accurately the demarcation line between Us and Them. In other words, in this type of an ethnic conflict, no one was considered to be just male or female, but was primarily marked by his or hers own ethnic affiliation, thus being recognized as Croatian woman, Serbian man, or Bosniak woman. As the relevant academic research on the topic suggests, we should consider that this ethnicities were not the initial reason for the war, but were actually its product, with masculinity and norms of sexuality being its essential ingredients.
In the presented paper, I would like to analyse in what different ways did this (re)constructed ethnic and national identity based on the notions of heteronormativity and patriarchy reflect in the Croatian theatre during the wartime, and more specifically, in the Hrvatsko narodno kazalište (Croatian National Theatre). Considering its central position in representing the (new) national identity, I would like to question and display in what ways did the national stage mirror its own socio-political context, and how did it echo the norms of the wartime manhood/womanhood realm conceived by the executors of political power. In doing so, I would inspect the theatre repertoire of the given time and place, its politics and mechanisms of realisation, as well as few pivotal dramatic texts of the period, giving the main analytical significance to the position and modes of interpretation of female characters. Furthermore, I would research the relevant contextual phenomena of the wartime theatre in Croatia,  such as the extradition cases of theatre artists not willing to subscribe to the newly defined national identity.

Melisa Slipac (Universität Wien)
Female nomadic subject in the novel Hacked Kiti (Hakirana Kiti, 2013) by Andrea Pisac (b. 1975)

The primary aim of the analysis of the novel Hacked Kiti (2013) by Croatian writer and anthropologist Andrea Pisac (b.1975) is to explore the way in which female subjectivity and sexuality are depicted in a literary work by a contemporary female author from southeast Europe at the beginning of the third millennium. This analysis is a part of a larger research, which deals with the construction of female identity and sexuality in the novels of contemporary female writers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia in times of transition.
Since I am interested in the postmodern notions of multiple, transitional, hybrid and non-unitary subjectivity, I have chosen to examine the first novel of an author who lives in London and thematizes a move away from her country of origin and explores the image of the nomad, the outsider, the Other within a present-day society.
My critical and theoretical framework combines the ideas from feminist literary theory, critical theory, gender and women's studies, postmodern philosophy, and cultural studies, but it mainly draws on work by Rosi Braidotti and her notion of nomadic subject, which is the key concept of her nomadic theory dealing with postmodern subjectivity in globalized world. By depicting the personal experiences of the heroine Kiti, who can be taken as an example of the 'nomadic subject', the novel engages with a number of critical issues such as sexuality, gender, identity, self-realization, otherness, fragmentation and multiplicity of the subject. Although the exploration of female subjectivity is situated within a specific historical and spatial context, the novel also reflects upon the global, universal dimension of female identity and otherness.


Marko Kölbl (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien)
Grieving Femininities. Croatian Laments between Subversion and Confirmation of Gender

The ritual of funeral lament – melodically stylized crying for the dead – in many cultures is defined as a female genre. It is usually the women that lament. Especially in societies with a harsh gender dichotomy, as in rural Croatia, this death-related ritual activity of emotional expression is linked to stereotypical views of femininity: in contrasting (through binary logic) female emotionality towards male rationality and defining women as apt care-givers and kinship workers.
Lament research prevalently emphasized lament’s feature as an expressive sphere for women / of femininity. As laments are not only emotional expression but also symbolic representation of pain and grief, they have a performative power, a “ritual sociality” as a communicative event. Lament’s mediative inter-subjectivity is influencing social structures and imposes power on the lamenter – a power resulting from lament’s verbal, corporeal, and sonic content. Women’s lament can thus challenge, question and put into danger social norms, at least in an academic interpretation.
This reading displays gender asymmetries, allowing after all the possibility for subversion. To me, however, solely displaying hegemonic power structures is not satisfying - I am more interested in dismantling the processes that naturalize and justify gender asymmetries and the heteronormative binary. Understanding gender as performative, as constantly discursively produced, rather than simply expressed socially, allows us to uncover laments as a force creating gender ideologies, gender difference and gender relations.
The paper addresses lament’s implications and impacts for the lamenting women, for views on femininity and masculinity and the declining significance of the genre itself in post-socialist rural Croatia and Herzegovina. It is based on original fieldwork and combines emic narratives with an interdisciplinary approach between ethnomusicology and gender studies.

Letztes Update: 02.05.2016