Event series
"His- and Herstories of Transformation: Negotiating labour, educating sex and constructing gender after 1989"

Too often the accelerated deep-going social transformations in Central and East Europe during the 1980s and 1990s are told as one history. Political actors today build one-sided narratives of the transformation as failure or success in order to justify systemic changes to (or to defend) the political and social order established after 1989. Most social and historical research, for often plausible reasons, takes a "systemic" point of view focussing on the political transition, economic change and normative ideologies behind collectively binding decisions.

Following more "grounded", ethnographically informed approaches "from below", we therefore intend to highlight the multiplicity of STORIES (pl.!) within/behind the hiSTORY of transformations. In this context "His- and Herstories" is meant to serve as a loose "motto" for a series of events which raise such issues as the following:

First and foremost, the topic draws attention to the multiple differences of experiencing, coping and evaluating transformations related to sexuality and gender. These multifaceted perspectives further help to understand transformations as "liminal" periods of shifting and blurred categorial, temporal, spatial, social and material boundaries. Among these problem complexes and experiences of liminality we focus on labour and civic engagement - everyday life, bodies and sexualities - visual constructions and identities.

Our intention is to stimulate thoughts and raise questions about the prevalence, functioning, and consequences of such differentiations, and further, to also give our own projects and discussions on transformation at RECET food for further thought. We are neither proposing a feminist or queer re-reading of established narratives, nor implying a binary distinction between "his" and "her" past experiences. Our aim is to discuss and critically examine the multiplicity of transformation experiences in his-, her- and beyond-stories and to engender critical self-reflections about our own field of transformation studies.

The programme entails a short series of lecture-dialogues and film screenings, followed by a round table discussion and workshop at RECET. The latter is meant to fertilize on the ideas raised throughout the former events and stimulate the RECET members' own research projects. Eventually, the workshop will also serve to discuss the use that can be made of these ideas for future mutual events or grant applications.


1. Webinar Lecture

Thursday, 26.11.2020, 12:15 p.m.

Magda Szcześniak (Warszawa), cultural anthropologist, author of „Normy Widzialności. Tożsamość w czasach transformacji” (Fundacja Bęc Zmiana/Instytut Kultury Polskiej UW, 2016)


2. Workshop: His- and Her-Stories of Transformations

Thursday, 10.12.2020, 12:15 p.m.

Keynote by Libora Oates-Indruchova (Graz): "Mundane Epiphanies: A Herstory of Czech Normalization and Its Uses for the Study of the Transformation from State Socialism"

Libora Oates-Indruchova is Professor of Sociology of Gender at the University of Graz. Her research addresses cultural representations of gender, gender and social change (especially the Czechoslovak transformation from late- to post-socialism), censorship and narrative research.

Commentator: Juraj Buzalka is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at the Institute of Social Anthropology at Comenius University in Bratislava. His research areas include anthropology of political movements, nationalism, populism, politics and religion, social transformations in Eastern Central Europe, politics of memory, and wine and food movements.

Friday, 11.12.2020, 9:00-12:00

Impulses by members of RECET

Discussants: Libora Oates-Indruchova, Juraj Buzalka


Stephanie Weismann, stephanie.weismann@univie.ac.at
Lukas Becht, lukas.becht@univie.ac.at