Gender and Politics: Re-examining kinship, stigmatization and agency

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Popper room
Monday, January 30, 2012 - 1:00pm
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Monday, January 30, 2012 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm

The Familial Ties that Bind: Gender, Kinship, and Party Politics in Contemporary France

Dorit Geva
Assistant Professor

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

In my past research, I have argued that too many sociologists and political scientists have accepted Max Weber’s presumption that one of the signs of political modernization is a decline in familial authority (patrimonialism) as grounds for political legitimacy. I continue to re-examine this modernization thesis by looking at the unexpected affinity between gender equality and a re-emergence of kinship politics in numerous countries over the past decade. Female politicians who are married to prominent male politicians, or who are the daughters, sisters, or widows of prominent male politicians, have risen to the highest posts in electoral politics as heads of parties and even heads of state in what might be described as a new form of neo-patrimonial politics with a feminist twist. While this is an international trend, my new project focuses on the family sagas that have embroiled French political parties, specifically, the Front National and the PartiSocialiste in recent years. The conjugal dramas of Ségolène Royal and François Hollande competing over the PartiSocialiste’s leadership, and the Front National’s generational succession from Jean-Marie Le Pen to his daughter Marine Le Pen, both suggest the possible reappearance of family lineage as grounds for political authority. This talk will outline the puzzles presented by these two cases, and some preliminary ideas as to why this phenomenon is occurring in several French political parties today.


International Activism of State Socialist Women’s Organizations in the 1970s: Shaping the UN Women’s Agenda

Raluca Maria Popa
PhD Candidate 
Gender Studies

Women’s organizations (National Women’s Councils) from many socialist states in Eastern Europe have resolutely supported activism leading to international commitments to improving the situation of women, such as International Women’s Year (1975), the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women or the UN Decade for Women (1976-1985). The main avenues for the participation of state socialist women’s organizations in international activism on women’s issues have been the United Nations and particularly the UN Women’s Conferences and the post-World War II international organization Women’s International Democratic Federation. I begin a discussion of the involvement of state socialist women’s organizations in international activism by presenting the initiatives of several Romanian and Hungarian women advocates, who largely due to their privileged positions were able to attend and influence UN fora. One of them was Maria Groza, daughter of the first Communist Prime-minister PetruGroza; Maria Groza wasa recurrent member of the Romanian Governmental delegations to the UN General Assembly, a member of the Romanian delegation to the UN Conference on Women in 1975, and vice-president of Women’s National Council during the 1970s. The Romanian Florica Andrei was the representative of the Romanian Government in the UN Commission on the Status of Women and she introduced the proposal that led to the 1972 General Assembly Resolution declaring 1975 International Women’s Year. StanaBuzatu was a Romanian academic who acted as Secretary for the Women’s International Democratic Federation in Berlin between 1965 and 1971. The Hungarian Hanna Bokor was a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (1972) and a member of the UN Working Group on new draft instrument or instruments of international law to eliminate discrimination against women (established 1973; the working group drafted the UN “Women’s Bill”, the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women).
While focusing on the activism of representatives of state socialist countries and organizations in UN fora dedicated to improving the status of women, the purpose of the paper is to reviewsome of the analytical categories that still dominate the historiography of state socialist, state-sponsored women’s organizations. I will argue that the analytical categories used to write the history of women’s organizations affiliated with the Communist Parties are (still) stigmatizing and deny organizational and individual agency.