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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 20, Issue 5/6, 2010
Gender and Sexuality

Table of Contents

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Displaying: 1-12 of 12 documents

1. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Tomasz Basiuk Guest Editor’s Introduction
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i. polish and international contexts
2. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Sylwia Kuźma-Markowska Why There Is No Gender History in Poland?
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The article looks at the state of women’s and gender history at Polish universities, taking the international context—especially the case of the United States, France, Great Britain, and Germany—as a point of departure for analyzing the specificities of the Polish situation. It is argued that the weak position of women’s history and virtual nonexistence of gender history are caused by the following reasons: the dominance of political history, resistance to theory, a general lack of interdisciplinary approaches, reluctance to feminism, structural inflexibility and hierarchy that characterize Polish universities. At the same time, the integration of gender history approaches into research is claimed to be a chance for the development and more widespread acceptance of women’s history, as well as for greater inclusion of theory into Polish historical research.
3. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Agnieszka Mrozik Gender Studies in Poland: Prospects, Limitations, Challenges
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The paper aims at indicating opportunities and threats faced by gender studies in Poland. The author presents institutional problems (i.e. organizational, financial), which limit dynamic development of the discipline and its impact on the society. She also discusses tensions between an academic affiliation of gender studies and its political aspirations rooted in the tradition of feminist movement. Finally, the author describes recent methodological debates on gender discourse—its theoretical inspirations and practical use.
4. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Ewa Hauser Gender Studies in Poland: a View from Outside
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The introduction of Women and Gender Studies in Polish universities is intrinsically connected with the systemic transformation following 1989. This change was marked by the rejection of the communist past with its nominal sexual equality and acceptance of a conservative culture legally restricting women’s rights. Since the mid-nineties, Women and Gender Studies programs have been instituted in many state and private universities albeit on an auxiliary, extramural bases or as “specialization” within other degrees (e.g., sociology, or cultural studies). Since the mid-2000s, gender studies in Poland include studies of masculinity, gender identity formation and queer theory in addition to the traditional women studies program. After Poland joined the EU, the introduction of European legal standards started to influence the progress in Poland’s gender politics towards greater recognition of minority rights. Gender Studies are in the foreground of these changes in teaching and training students and colleagues in gender issues seen as crucial for building a democratic inclusive society.
5. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Jon Binnie, Christian Klesse Transnational Geographies of Activism around Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Politics in Poland
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This article provides an analysis of the transnational spatial politics of activism around lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer politics in Poland. The authors discuss three key themes that emerged from their empirical research on activism associated with the equality marches in Krakow, Poznan and Warsaw. These are concerned with age and the intergenerational politics of solidarity; the connection between migration and activism, and the use of city-twinning links. The authors argue that research on the spatial politics of activism and social movements can enhance existing understandings of the sustainability of activist struggles for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer politics in Poland.
ii. sexual citizenship
6. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Tomasz Jarymowicz Sexual Emancipation and Seyla Benhabib’s Deliberative Approach to Conflicts in Culture
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Seyla Benhabib in her book The Rights of Others (2004) focuses on the tension between the universal claims of human rights and the localized democratic regimes which are based on the rule of majority. In Benhabib’s opinion the tension between these two is constitutive of existing democratic states and can be resolved only provisionally through democratic deliberations. The article looks to the theory of deliberative democracy for a way of conceptualizing sexual minorities politics which would appeal to human rights and their universal claims. Along with Benhabib the paper recognizes the need on the part of all minorities to negotiate their rights within the ruling majority, which would hopefully enhance both learning processes within society and influence its changing self-interpretation. Benhabib’s contribution to the problem of cultural conflicts is all the more valuable that she not only remains within the critical theory paradigm but opens it up to the challenge of poststructuralism by taking advantage of some of its insights such as Jacques Derrida’s concept of iterations.
7. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Rob Cover Genomic Sexuality and Self: the Cultural Conditions for the “Uptake” of Gay Gene Assertions
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Many areas of genetic research, genetic forensics and genetic essentialism are treated in public sphere debate as suspicious and problematic or are subject to waves of moral panic. In cultural theory, likewise, strong critiques of the genetic essentialism emerge as part of a broader critical assessment of the discourses of the biological sciences and the assertion of a connection between genes and human behavior. However, the scientific and popular claim to the existence of a “gay gene” is not treated in the same way, and has been widely celebrated both within lesbian/gay culture and more broadly in liberal-humanist speech. This essay suggests that it is not enough to presume that this is a result of the extension of essentialism into new popular understandings of human biology. Rather, this essay examines five reasons which have made the popular acceptance of a “gay gene” tenable: the dominance of “gay personage” arguments, the continued influence of early sexology, the suspicion of psychological and constructionist approaches to lesbian/gay sexualities, the effectiveness of genetic essentialism in“ethnic rights” political approaches and the continued centrality of “fixed subjecthood” in contemporary western culture.
8. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Joanna Mizielińska Between Silencing and Ignorance: “Families of Choice” in Poland
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The aim of this article is to show contemporary changes in intimate and family life on the example of “families of choice”. In the first part, I present state-of-the-art concepts of families and argue for the urgent need for their re-definition due to the fact that what we call family nowadays differs drastically from what it used to be. I propose to treat those changes as a natural phenomenon and not as a sign of the crisis of the family, as it is often presented in the Polish conservative discourse. In the second part, I show how “families of choice” have been analyzed so far in Western literature. I contrast those findings with the scarcity of research being conducted on this topic in Poland. This lack of data is quite telling. In the last part, I focus on data gathered during interviews I conducted with Polish lesbian families. I try to answer some of the following questions: How do they blur the boundaries between what counts as family and what does not? How do they cope with the invisibility and exclusions in their daily life? What political agenda could emerge if we take their experiences and needs into account?
9. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Tomasz Sikora, Rafał Majka “Not-so-strange bedfellows”: Considering Queer and Left Alliances in Poland
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It is often taken for granted that there exists a more or less “natural” link between left-wing politics and the progressive social movements referred to as “cultural”, such as feminist, ecological or LGBT struggles. This article argues that if an alliance between the Left and the LGBTQ movement is to be real and operational, it must be worked out, rather than presupposed, via a thorough rethinking of the political as such, of its axioms, goals and ethical frameworks. The authors see a parallel between the dissatisfaction that recent grassroots left-wing movements feel towards more established parties and institutions, and the dissatisfaction that a new wave of queer activism feels towards more traditional policies of mainstream LGBT organizations. Much of this dissatisfaction can be derived, in both cases, from the perceived neoliberalization of the political and social spheres and the subsequent cooptation of leftist / queer politics and activism to the neoliberal, or even neoconservative, agenda. This moment of shared dissatisfaction should be used creatively to devise common strategies, rather than maintain the artificial and disadvantageous division (which only seems to work to the benefit of the neoliberal hegemony) between the so-called “economic” and “cultural” lefts. Regrettably, at the moment there is very little understanding of queerness on the Left, just as there is little dedication to countering the disastrous effects of capitalism among LGBT activists. The New Left and the queer movement have much to learn and gain from each other, but to make this happen new leftists must rethink the political through the sexual, whereas the queer movement (seen as separate from LGBT or uneasily attached to it) must rethink the sexual through the economic, to put it simply. The article ends with an outline of a new comprehensive ethical and political model from which an anti-exclusionary and pro-social ethics could be derived as a common ground for a workable queer and left alliance.
iii. constructing identities, mediating desires
10. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Robert Pralat Desire “to Have” and Desire “to Be”: the Influence of Representations of the Idealized Masculine Body on the Subject and the Object in Male Same-Sex Attraction
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In this essay, I attempt to consider a difficult issue: the triangular relationship between the subject, the object and the visual representations of masculinity in the context of male homosexual desire. I outline contemporary circumstances of society’s interaction with popular culture in which gay men form two images of an idealized masculine body: a concept of their own body and a concept of the body they feel sexually attracted to. My concern is to theorize these two kinds of desire and position them in the chaotic landscape of contesting masculinities that increasingly often besiege men via visual media. I differentiate between “straight” and “gay” masculinities as historically they have been represented and negotiated independently. What I want to reflect on is in what ways these masculinities can impact on gay men’s desires—to be a man, and to have a man. Approaching this task produces a rather puzzling picture as interpreting contemporary visual culture poses more questions than it gives answers. I argue that some of these questions are worth pursuing as an empirical inquiry. My objective is to provide a theoretical background such work could be based on. I locate elements of this theory that I find problematic or out-of-date and mention certain aspects of the problem that I believe could be addressed further.
11. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Karolina Krasuska Trans-appropriations: Transgendering Nationness in Piotr Odmieniec Włast’s “In Grabow During the War: Book of Idyllic Poetry”
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This article examines the performance of (trans)masculinity by Piotr Odmieniec Włast (“Maria Komornicka”) in the poetry manuscript “In Grabów during the War:Book of Idyllic Poetry” (1917–1927). Following feminist arguments about the interdependence of the categories of gender and nationness, it argues that Włast uses Polish Romantic messianic discourse to make credible his staging of (trans)masculinity. Consequently, it participates in the discussions about the relations between nationness and non-normative gender scenarios.
12. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 20 > Issue: 5/6
Błażej Warkocki, Piotr Mierzwa The Death of the Homosexual: on Grzegorz Musiał’s Late Work and the Limits of Modernism in Poland
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Grzegorz Musiał’s late work is exemplary of the Modernist coupling of desire and death, which German Ritz linked to the way that homosexual sensibility has been encoded in Polish literary Modernism. This reading of Musiał is paradoxical at heart, as the writer’s literary output must also be ridden with tensions, because his clinging to a bygone aesthetic in order to render homosexual desire seems quaint in an era in which the idea of gay emancipation is widespread. Musiał’s literary alter ego, who is realized as a fictional character and as the speaker in his poems, is a hybrid of an erudite homosexual male equipped with the classical sensibility and a devout Catholic, whose appreciation and outright enjoyment of church ritual is almost camp. Musiał attempts to pit this literary dummy against the usually younger homosexual men who, like a mob of the living dead, populate the underground world of night clubs and anonymous sex.