Masculinity and Postsocialism: Patriarchy, Nationhood and Personhood in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Call for papers

Research on men and masculinities in Eastern Europe and Eurasia forms part of a wider body of work within gender studies seeking to understand the changing contours of patriarchy as a global system. In the global metropole, the relative success of feminist politics and emergence of increasingly service-dominated economies has meant that ‘the feminine’ has become central to understanding the ways men negotiate gender relations, with commentators exploring the processes of accommodation, adaptation and recuperation men engage in to ensure their ongoing dominance (Bridges and Pascoe 2014; Aavik et al. 2020; Wolfman, Hearn and Yeadon-Lee 2021). Outside of the Global North, where the impact of feminist movements on gender politics and related welfare state developments has been more negligible, studies have tended to explore the more openly traditionalist constructions of masculinity that prevail in, for example, India (Jeffrey 2010, Vera-Sanso 2017), North and sub-Saharan Africa (Hayns 2017; Harris 2018), China (Lin 2017; Chan and Fang 2021) and Brazil (Piscitelli 2017), and the often novel ways men strive to live up to them when faced with blocked pathways. In Eastern Europe and Eurasia, more overt forms of masculine dominance have loomed especially large in the literature to date as, in stark contrast to Western-centric claims regarding the liberalisation of masculinity (see Diefendorf and Bridges 2020 for a review), post-socialist societies are deemed to have undergone a process of re-masculinization (Watson 1993; Ashwin 2000; Oushakine 2002). In many cases, masculinity has been co-opted into patriarchal nation-building projects, with men being invited to reassert themselves in public and private spaces from which they had been excluded under state socialism, and in doing so to join religion and the nuclear family in shoring up social stability (Ashwin and Utrata 2020; Edstrom et al 2019). These narrowly normative constructions of masculinity have reemerged at the same time that the newly market-based societies of Eastern Europe and Eurasia have reframed demands on men, who are now also expected to engage in forms of ‘work on the self’ in the pursuit of material and symbolic social mobility (Walker 2017). However, as in both the Global North and South, new forms of masculine subjectivity rooted in entrepreneurialism, self-management and individual merit and failure, tend to dovetail with, rather than present any challenge to, patriarchal gender ideology and traditional forms of gender inequality (Bureychak 2012). Nevertheless, as in the socialist period, the post-socialist context may present men with opportunities to locate spaces in which to carve out new forms of expression beyond the narrow prescriptions of gender stereotypes (Lipasova 2017; Mole 2019) and the demands of the market (Walker 2022, Morris 2019).

This call for papers seeks to generate comparative, inter-disciplinary perspectives on the changing shape of masculinities across post-socialist Eastern Europe and Eurasia, reflecting equally on its shared history and on the divergent developments taking place both between and within countries across the region. It invites contributions that explore: the different ways in which masculinity has been re-constructed and mobilised – by states, by markets – across Eastern Europe and Eurasia from the collapse of state socialism to the present day; the impact of these constructions on gender and sexual relations and inequalities, including in spheres such as employment, social policy, the family and domestic violence; the ways men with differing social characteristics have negotiated these constructs in their everyday lives, and relations between them; and the various relations between national and global constructions of hegemonic masculinity across the region.  

Proposals could include, but should not be limited to, the following themes:

  • Masculinity in the political sphere
  • Representations of masculinity in film and literature
  • Masculinity, the military and other forms of service to the state
  • Men’s negotiation of education and employment change
  • Models of fatherhood and caring labour
  • Masculinity and consumption
  • Men’s sport, leisure and health
  • Homophobia, heteronormativity and sexuality

Chosen contributors will be invited to a hybrid workshop in early 2023 (date TBC) at the University of Southampton’s newly established Centre for Eastern European and Eurasian Studies.  

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words to charlie.walker@soton.ac.uk by Friday 16 September 2022.

@yana_tark ‘7 million roubles’, 2022

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