Collecting the Heritage: South-East European Women Philosophers
Institute of Philosophy in Zagreb and online on 2nd and 3rd December 2022



Senka Anastasova
Feminist Historical Materialism and Philosophy of the Women’s Revolutionary Thought: The Legacy of the Women’s Socialist Organization in Macedonia
The text develops the engagements of the archives of the intellectual history of the women’s emancipatory and revolutionary thought from the 1920s years of the last century till today. There would be a philosophical reading of the historical Balkan context related to women’s understandings of socialist politics, Marxism, class struggle, structural and social-political, and economic issues, and women’s reading of the processes of the nationalization/denationalization and economic exploitation, since the last century. My interest would be focused specifically on the historical archives from women’s history and the materialization of the intellectual thoughts from the period before World War I, through the working class labor socialist movements in the former Yugoslavia (the role of the women in organizing of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, case Macedonia), to the new dimension of the fights for the women labor rights against double neglected issues, equal rights of the women in the communist party itself, and equal rights of the women against capitalism. I would explore the revolutionary women’s practices and potentials in theory for a direct equal approach of the women in the public spheres of action, the concept of unions, dialectical relations of theory and practices related to organizing labor strikes, practices of solidarity and critique of the unequal status of the women in society related to social issues and socialist organizations. The core of the text explores philosophically grounded alternative to capitalism needed to give action in the archives of the revolutionary work of Rosa Plaveva (her work on political issues, organizing labor movements and strikes), and her direct and indirect relation to Raya Dunayevskaya’s Hegel and Marxist’s philosophy (the concept of intersectional humanism), and Plaveva’s correspondence with Rosa Luxemburg.

Eva Bahovec
Feminism and Philosophy: Neither Badiou Nor Žižek

During the time of the French revolution the fight for human rights also became the fight for women’s rights. In her Declaration of the Rights of Woman Olympe de Gouges wrote: “Tell me, Man, who gave you the sovereign power to oppress my sex?” The twentieth century brought about some major changes. During the time of socialism, women in Eastern Europe women were generally better off as compared to ‘the West’, considering their rights and the organization of their everyday lives (contraception and abortion, access to employment, childcare etc.). The question arises, how to reconsider the time after the fall of the Berlin wall. Somewhere between the Balkan utopias and the Nordic feminist heterotopias, a space seems to be opening up for a new geophilosophy, as first imagined by Deleuze and Guattari, by taking into account the heritage of the socialist times. A new orientation in feminist theory, starting from Simon de Beauvoir’s Second Sex, and opening up new Foucauldian ‘other spaces’ for feminist ethics, seems to be on the verge of emerging. Let us go on! Considering the latest developments in European politics, there seems to be no time for any hesitation at all.

Una Blagojević
Problematising Marxist Humanism: Blaženka Despot’s Approaches to Socialism and Technology

Much of the history of philosophical and political ideas in socialist countries (East Central and South-eastern Europe), unfolded on the terrain of Marxist humanism (Zhivka Valiavicharska, 2021). In the most general terminology, Marxist humanism had a defining anti-Stalinist orientation which mainly included a return to ‘man’ and ‘man’s’ role in history. In Yugoslavia, the circle of philosophers gathered around the journal Praxis and their affiliated Korčula Summer School, became in the 1960s and 1970s one of the most vocal revisionists Marxist groups in a socialist country. Both the journal and Korčula Summer School had a distinctly international character as they developed close links with Herbert Marcuse, Ágnes Heller, Lucien Goldmann, Henri Lefebvre, Jürgen Habermas, and others. Philosopher Blaženka Despot was part of the wider circle of Marxist humanists in Yugoslavia. While she published in Praxis and attended the Korčula Summer School, her own philosophical work problematized and expanded the theoretical frameworks of Marxist humanism. After explaining the intellectual and historical context of Yugoslavia in the 1960s with a focus on the Praxis circle, this paper will introduce Blaženka Despot’s philosophical contributions through her engagement with the male-centred interpretations of both ‘Marxism’ and ‘humanism,’ reflections on technology, emancipation, and socialist self-management.

Nađa Bobičić
Broken Red Thread: Rewriting History, Reimagining Futures of (post-)Yugoslav Socialist Feminism

In this talk, we trace the dynamic relationship of feminism and Marxism in Yugoslavia beginning with the first half of the 20th century, via the so-called second-wave leftist feminist currents, until the modern tendencies, in order to reconstruct the pieces of the “broken red thread” of Yugoslav socialist feminist history. Two original Yugoslav leftist approaches to feminism are sketched out. The first one chronologically is the socialist self-management approach to the women’s question, which emerged from the tradition of classical Marxism, linking it with the Yugoslav self-management theory. This approach can be traced in the works and politics of Vida Tomšič. The second approach is Yugoslav socialist feminism of the 1970s and 1980s, which critically reinterprets the classical Marxist cannon, intersecting with and developing further on the issues brought by second-wave feminism. This approach is developed in the works by feminist theoreticians Nada Ler Sofronić and Blaženka Despot. The study of this corpus goes beyond rewriting the past. It also addresses important questions for the present moment, such as the possibilities of forging alliances between feminism and Marxism, as well as other progressive movements. By addressing these questions, we aim at re-establishing continuity with the leftist feminist tradition in the region, a continuity that has been briefly interrupted during the 1990s and 2000s, thus intervening into the history of thought on Yugoslav feminism and Marxism alike.

Luka Boršić and Ivana Skuhala Karasman
An Overview of Croatian Women Philosophers

The first woman in our region who deserves the title of women philosopher, is Maruša Gundulić, who lived and worked in the second half of the sixteenth century in Dubrovnik. As far as we know there was not a single women philosopher in Croatia for almost three centuries. At the end of the 19th century an Austrian-Croatian women philosopher Helene Druskowitz (1856 – 1918) earned her doctorate degree in philosophy in Zurich. Furthermore, at the beginning of the 20th century Elza Kučera (1883 – 1972) studied special philosophy and psychology also at the University of Zurich. Ivana Rossi (1892 – 1966) was the first woman to receive a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Zagreb. Elly Ebenspanger (1904 – 1942) received her doctorate degree in philosophy in 1939.  In the middle of the 20th century, Croatian women philosophers manage to achieve scientific careers, to mention the most important ones: Marija Brida (1912 – 1993), Heda Festini (1928 – 2018), Blaženka Despot (1930 – 2001) and Branka Brujić (1931 – 2020).

Marina Christodoulou
Which is Better: To Live in an Explicit (Peripheral European) or an Implicit (More “European”) Patriarchy?

I will try to answer the question of which “patriarchy” one (mostly a woman) is “better” to live in, the explicit South-Eastern (peripheral one) or the implicit Central-Continental (European) one? In doing so, I will also try to answer the question or problematic of why in the “peripheral” patriarchy we seem to have less or lesser women philosophers (at least in non-ex-communist countries), and more particularly, why in Cyprus we seem to have none, except from maybe some academic philosophers recently. Or, why, possibly existing women philosophers are not known or completely undocumented (maybe the oral tradition, that they are not academic, or not published?).

Nadežda Čačinovič
Feminists and Others

Is feminism a divisive or uniting movement; not only considered from the inside but does it have the inclination and willingness to enter into a dialogue with others? An introductory analysis of the last half of the century.

Šeherzada Džafić
Bosnian women in philosophy
The lecture examines the existence, role and importance of female philosophers in Bosnian society. So far, the pursuits emphasize philosophy as a secondary field. Namely, no matter how deep they are in philosophy, it is a secondary field for them – Bosnian philosopher Fatima Lačević will be taken as an example. The lecture concludes that the number of women in philosophy is very small and that it is necessary to work on strengthening awareness of the role and importance of women philosophers.

Evangelia Aikaterini Glantzi
Helle Lambridis on War and the Moral Principle of Survival

Helle Lambridis (1896 – 1970) was a Greek woman philosopher whose philosophical legacy consists in a considerable number of philosophical works that cover almost all of the basic fields of philosophy. Her moral theory is developed in detail in her posthumously published book Fantasia Philosophica (Λαμπρίδη, 2021) and more specifically, in the last chapter which is entitled “Values”. Lambridis’s moral theory poses at its centre the moral principle of survival and it was inspired by her experience of the Second World War and her fear of the further use of nuclear weapons. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, to discuss the moral principle of survival and the ideas of Lambridis on war in relation with the just war theory. Second, Lambridis writes that people should not just survive but they should survive as “human beings” by developing their abilities and pursuing the aims that respond to the human species (Λαμπρίδη, 2021, 599). Lambridis does not discuss further this claim. I will argue that if we adopt a millian-in spirit- conception of human development as it is defended in On Liberty (Mill, 1859), then Lambridis΄s moral theory can be enriched with the principles of autonomy and security as they are found in the Millian-Humboltdian liberal morality, sketched by Papageorgiou (Παπαγεωργίου, 2005, 251-252). In the latter case, autonomy signifies the fulfillment of each person’s individuality which can be achieved through rational self-control (Παπαγεωργίου, 2005, 251) while the principle of security consists in the minimal requirements of the successful planning and realization of an autonomous life (Παπαγεωργίου, 2005, 246). Finally, I will explore the implications of the enrichment of Lambridis’s theory with the values of autonomy and security in regards with her approach on war.

Dimka Gočeva
Three Distinguished Contemporary Women Philosophers

The presentation will sketch the academic and artistic profiles of three contemporary Bulgarian women-philosophers. Who they are will remain a secret till the conference in the beginning of December. The three of them are leaders and pioneers in the peculiar sphere of their scholarly work and none of them is employed at the University of Sofia, but in three other academic institutions. The three of them are practicing and/or have created pieces of art, as well. What is common among them, what is this female triad a sign of?

Itır Güneş
In the Eyes of Women Philosophers: Human Rights and Women’s Predicament in the Turkish Context

This paper traces the themes of human rights, human existence, and values in the writings of prominent Turkish women philosophers such as Ioanna Kuçuradi and Betül Çotuksöken. Implications of these themes for women’s rights and social status have also been considered.

Kateryna Karpenko
The Struggle of Ukrainian Women for the Right to Higher Education: Historical and Philosophical Receptions of Ludmila Smolyar

Lyudmyla Smolyar (1958 – 2004) is a Ukrainian historian, a well-known researcher of the Ukrainian women’s movement, who, unfortunately, passed away early. She inspired and selflessly immersed herself in archival materials, monographic research, historical, socio-humanitarian, and artistic contexts of the subject of her research. This gives us the right to talk about the historical and philosophical receptions of the struggle of Ukrainian women for the right to higher education, which were reflected in her works. To understand her texts, it is important to consider Gadamer’s idea about the coincidence of the horizons of reproduction and perception of events. In them we feel the presence of the author and the foreboding of the reader-recipient. Their horizons of perception are open, open to each other and expand with a new reading in new historical circumstances.
In Lyudmila Smolyar’s concept, an important place is given to understanding the first attempts of Ukrainian women to enter universities. She notes that under the influence of the social movement of the early 1960s, women were allowed to attend universities. At Kyiv University, women could attend lectures with the permission of the professors, which had to be reported to the rector in writing, and at Kharkiv University, rules were even issued for female university students. It is important for the researcher to emphasize that the lectures of the best professors were often attended by more girls than boys. As an Odessan, she speaks with special piety about the struggle for women’s education in Odessa. Summarizing the circumstances in which women had to seek their right to education, L. Smolyar notes that government prohibitions were not the only obstacle on the way to higher education for women, extremely often their own family became an obstacle in this matter. The girl’s economic dependence on her parents and then on her husband, outdated legal norms, and political discrimination forced women to look for ways to self-realize. Under these circumstances, the successes of women who received education abroad and returned to Ukraine, as well as those who exercised this right by studying at Higher Women’s Courses in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa, were more significant and convincing.
Even with some regret, the researcher emphasizes that despite all the success of the Higher Women’s Courses, it should be noted that very often their technical base was weaker than that of the university. There were problems with the premises, some teachers considered their work in the field of women’s education only as a public activity.
A different intonation and a certain disagreement can be felt in the conclusion of the researcher regarding the fact that the Higher Women’s Courses were forced to send students to St. Petersburg to the Minister of National Education to obtain permission for the right to take exams at universities to obtain a diploma, and women who received a medical education , in addition, were forced to obtain permission from the police in order to start their practical activities. The course of history gradually changed the situation. And at every turn, women’s struggle for the right to higher education was irreversible.

Slađana Kavarić Mandić
A Country Without Female Philosophers

This work tries to point out the position of female philosophers in Montenegro, bearing in mind the fact that society is framed in a patriarchal framework that does not encourage the philosophical activity of women. In support of this, the work emphasizes that only one woman has received a doctorate in philosophy from the state faculty since the establishment of the state university in Montenegro, and not a single woman has been hired as a lecturer in the philosophical group of subjects of the Department of Philosophy. Given that the philosophical community in Montenegro is under a strong clerical influence and thus gender insensitive and exclusive, the question should be raised about the possibilities of breaking through left-wing feminist through philosophical practice and re-evaluating the current academic canons that put an end to any emancipatory potential.

Katerina Kolozova
Automata of Capital and Patriarchy: A Materialist Perspective

Macedonian philosophical scene is diverse and marked by the author’s individual intellectual pursuits, rarely constituting a scene and a legacy. In the recent years, mainly within the framework of the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities in Skopje (a graduate school), a mass of mainly international collective exchanges, both on site and online, has started growing into a decernable scene with feminism at its center, but also materialism, new realisms, Marxism and Laruellian non-philosophy. The title of this abstract refers to an excerpt of a study from a larger monograph that I believe best illustrates said interests: it combines Luce Irigaray’s reading of patriarchy in line with Marx’s value theory with critical animal studies, while juxtaposing it to the new strands in posthumanism and its derivations such as the studies of the inhuman, the ahuman and, in my case, the study of the non-human.

Lara Končar
Taking Back the Time: Research on Unpaid Housework in Pandemic Context

The presentation will discuss the results of the research project “Taking back the time: a research-based campaign for equitable housework habits among Millennials & Zoomers”, conducted by the Center for Women’s Studies from Belgrade and the Association for culture and art CRVENA from Sarajevo. Special focus is on the structural conditions and effects that shaped housework and care work in the pandemic context, in contemporary Serbia. The aim is to discuss both social, political and economic processes and inequalities, how they constitute housework and care work and the relations formed within the household and community.

Zsófia Lóránd
“New” Feminism and Socialism in Yugoslavia in the 1970s-1980s

The 1970s in Yugoslavia marked the birth of a new feminist discourse, created by women centred in Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana. While socialist regimes not only in Yugoslavia, but all over East Central Europe made substantial steps towards gender equality, women’s status in these countries was hardly equal. Criticising the state for its shortcomings in this regard meant questioning one of socialism’s presumed main achievements. A feminist critique, moreover, involved a radical critique of the idea that subsuming the woman question to the class question would bring forth gender equality. Feminist intellectuals (academics, artists, writers) in Yugoslavia were producing a diverse body of texts (including artworks and literature) with feminist perspectives on women’s lives in socialist Yugoslavia. Women philosophers were in dialogue with a rich corpus of political thought from Hegel through the Frankfurt School to the theories of the écriture féminine. My talk will focus on three women philosophers, Blaženka Despot, Rada Iveković, and Nada Ler Sofronić. More specifically, I analyse the ways these three thinkers assess the woman question and socialism, interpret and envision varieties of feminism, as well as where and how they locate the roots and different forms of women’s oppression and how they relate these to violence against women.

Anita Zsurzsán
Ilona Duczynska and the Revolutionary Women of the Galilei Circle in Hungary

The Galilei Circle (1908 – 1919) was a secularist-materialist student organization and Hungary’s most radical intellectual movement before the First World War. The Budapest-based organization included various academic groups such as atheists, freethinkers, socialists, Marxists, feminists, etc., united by a common goal to protect the right to academic freedom, free scientific research, and thinking in schools and universities. The circle was committed to cultivating social sciences, philosophy, and education as a radical pushback against the nationalist-Christian churches that had a monopoly over the humanities and educational institutions. Philosopher György Lukács and economic anthropologist Karl Polányi are the internationally most recognized members of the Galilei Circle. Karl Polányi was the first president of the circle and the editor of the journal ”Szabadgondolat” (Free Thought). Szabadgondolat was an important platform for early Hungarian feminist thinkers and the women’s emancipation movement. Members of the Galilei Circle were mainly interested in social and economic theory, but they have also studied gender equality, feminism, and the logic of patriarchy. The circle was the first Hungarian intellectual movement that included queer theorists who pushed for the gay liberation movement. Some of the most prominent female members of the Galilei Circle were Ilona Duczynska, Jolán Kelen, Laura Polányi, Vilma Glücklich, Elza Weil, and others who were carefully studying German and English feminist movements, ideology, and philosophy. These women published studies in Szabadgondolat about the women’s suffrage movement, class struggle, labor movement, gender-based exploitation, social reproduction, and other topics.  It’s important to note however, that the participation of women in various aspects of public life in Hungary is not well documented. Ilona Duczynska (1897 – 1976), wife of Karl Polányi, was a Polish-Hungarian revolutionary, writer, translator, historian, and the most remarkable figure of the Galilei Circle. In my presentation, I will reflect on Duczynska’s political work, the revolutionary female thinkers of the Galilei Circle, and the impact they made on Hungary’s intellectual history and early feminist thought.