Call for Contributions: Muddled Masculinities in Central and Eastern Europe (SEXTURES)

Deadline for submitting papers: 15 March 2014.

In her recent memoir, The Taste of Ashes (2013), Marci Shore writes of her friend – she calls him Oskar – who killed himself after a failed attempt to reintegrate into Czech society as someone who had lived abroad for many years. “It didn’t have to happen this way,” the dead man’s son wrote. “It has everything to do with being raised male. Who was there to listen to his disappointment when he returned to a country poisoned by the cheap mediocrity and plastic that seems to inevitably come with capitalism? … I pledge to fight against these inhumane male roles, because they hurt gentle, dear men like my father and because they have killed him, and I wasn’t done loving him yet.” Shore leaves this potent indictment of East-Central European masculinity unexamined, and unfortunately she is not alone in failing to embed the gendering of men from this region within a critical, self-conscious historical narrative. This special issue of Sextures seeks to expose how masculinities have evolved, merged, split, gained and lost hegemony, and been normalized in the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe.

We invite contributions on, but not limited to, the following questions:

  • Have assertions of masculinity in Eastern Europe and the Balkans in various historical periods been a reaction to Western, orientalist thinking about the region as passive, backward, and despotic?
  • Both traditionalist celebrations of the peasantry and liberal stereotypes of East European backwardness root masculinity in a pre-modern, agrarian family structure. To what extent has this image of the paterfamilias shaped male performances of gender during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries?
  • To what extent is masculinity dependent on age, class, race, and ethnicity?
  • How have Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists thought about men as gendered beings and to what extent have religious ideas shaped how men perform gender?
  • How have evolving notions about women’s suffrage, the new woman, domestic violence, contraception, and abortion shaped the history of masculinity in the region?
  • How have heterosexual tropes of masculinity reacted to both feminist and LGBTQ identity movements?  
  • How comparable were fascist and communist ideals of men during the twentieth century?
  • Did oppressive regimes of the left and the right reinforce male authority within the family as a microcosm of the state or did they marginalize men by ruling family members as equal subjects of the state? Are these mutually exclusive options?
  • Have bio-political regimes in the region related to men as ungendered and unmarked “citizens” or as a group with gender-specific roles and responsibilities vis-à-vis the state?
  • Why have some ways of thinking about masculinity thrived in the region while others remain hidden and unacknowledged?
  • What feelings/practices/physiognomies/desires constitute masculinities, and what is the role of shame in scaffolding various masculinities?

These questions are to be taken as an invitation to reflection, rather than prescriptive statements limiting potential submissions. We focus on Central and Eastern Europe and particularly welcome papers crossing/transgressing disciplinary boundaries.

Please find the full CfP here: SEXTURES

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