Leading off this issue of Signs is Anna Hájková’s “Sexual Barter in Times of Genocide: Negotiating the Sexual Economy of the Theresienstadt Ghetto,” the winner of the 2013 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship. The article draws on archival material, memoirs, and interview data to relate a remarkable story about gender power in a Czech transit camp operated by the Nazi SS. Hájková examines how conditions in the Theresienstadt ghetto generated a system in which female sexual and social favors were deliberately traded for food, protection, and symbolic capital among inmates. She conceptualizes “sexual barter” in relation to a host of changing practices and power dynamics that contribute to the commodification of sexuality and the sexualization of the ghetto economy. Hájková’s essay was chosen from a field of 78 submissions by an international jury including Rosemarie Buikema, Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Utrecht; Marina Gržinić, University Professor for Conceptual Art at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana; and Amina Mama, Professor and Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of California, Davis.
The next four articles comprise a thematic cluster on women in contemporary Russia. Beth Holmgren’s introduction to the cluster situates the essays within the shifting political and economic contexts of Russia, comparing the Putin era with the lingering Soviet legacy. Janet Elise Johnson and Aino Saarinen examine how Putin’s authoritarianism and masculinism have affected the women’s crisis center movement, finding that while crisis centers have been domesticated—their feminist and activist spirit mostly sapped—a “feminist residue” remains within the Russian state. Michele Rivkin-Fish’s article turns to consider abortion, surrogate motherhood, and family support policies in Russia, and in so doing attends to “the complex issue of conceptualizing a feminist politics of social welfare” in a “formerly socialist, neoliberal, and nationalist policy context.” In “Feminized Patriarchy? Orthodoxy and Gender in Post-Soviet Russia,” Nadieszda Kizenko reflects on the Orthodox Church’s efforts to advocate traditional gender roles as a “panacea to Russia’s troubles,” which church leaders see as stemming both from Western liberalism and Soviet-era values. While church hierarchy is dominated by men, Kizenko shows the many ways in which Russian women are active in shaping the church. Closing the cluster, Andrea Mazzarino’s “Entrepreneurial Women and the Business of Self-Development in Global Russia” is based on the author’s fieldwork with women involved in practices of “self-help.” Mazzarino argues that these practices help women negotiate the political economic terrain of Russia and “make moral sense” of their entrepreneurial efforts in the face of multiple gendered and economic pressures.
Suzanne Leonard’s “The Americanization of Emma Bovary: From Feminist Icon to Desperate Housewife” traces the figure of Emma from her sympathetic adoption by US second-wave feminists to her ambivalent appearances in postfeminist texts such as Desperate Housewives and The Sopranos. Leonard finds that “postfeminist attitudes toward middle-class women,” which “waver between sympathy and disdain,” are mirrored by Flaubert’s own ambivalence toward Emma. Brenda Weber’s article offers a reading of a vastly different cultural text—the documentary film American Eunuchs. Analyzing the film and its reception, Weber finds a lingering masculinism despite the fact that the film’s subjects express a desire to be castrated (and indeed carry out that desire), and she reveals that the filmmakers’ evident horror at the excesses of US neoliberal medicine does not preclude them from advocating a neoliberal model of care of the self. Kyle Green and Madison Van Oort’s article argues that the rash of angry, vengeful men found in the advertisements aired during the 2010 Super Bowl represents a response to economic recession and a reinvigorated call for men to “wear the pants” to combat the supposed crisis of masculinity that the recession has precipitated.
In their New Directions essay, Aisha Durham, Brittney C. Cooper, and Susana M. Morris—all founding members of the Crunk Feminist Collective—assess recent scholarship on hip-hop feminism, detailing emergent areas of study in this vibrant field and sketching their own visions for the future. Finally, the issue closes with an expansive book reviews section—with reviews of books on academic feminist field formations, the history of the Chicano movement and Chicana feminism, representations of lynching, migration in Europe, women and natural disaster, sex and disability, and feminist theorizations of capitalism.
To access the issue on JSTOR, click here. The full table of contents is as follows:
Winner of the 2013 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship
Sexual Barter in Times of Genocide: Negotiating the Sexual Economy of the Theresienstadt Ghetto
Women in Contemporary Russia: A Thematic Cluster
Toward an Understanding of Gendered Agency in Contemporary Russia
Twenty-First Century Feminisms under Repression: Gender Regime Change and the Women’s Crisis Center Movement in Russia
Janet Elise Johnson, with Aino Saarinen
Feminized Patriarchy? Orthodoxy and Gender in Post-Soviet Russia
The Americanization of Emma Bovary: From Feminist Icon to Desperate Housewife
“We Wear No Pants”: Selling the Crisis of Masculinity in the 2010 Super Bowl Commercials
Madison Van Oort and Kyle Green
New Directions Essay
The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built
Aisha Durham, Brittney C. Cooper, and Susana M. Morris
|Nick Mitchell||The Geopolitics of the Cold War and Narratives of Inclusion: Excavating a Feminist Archive.
By Kelly Coogan-Gehr.
A Community of Disagreement: Feminism in the University.
By Danielle Bouchard.
By Robyn Wiegman.
|Maria E. Cotera||Mythohistorical Interventions: The Chicano Movement and Its Legacies.
By Lee Bebout.
¡Chicana Power! Contested Memories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement.
By Maylei Blackwell.
|Sandy Alexandre||Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930.
By Koritha Mitchell.
Gender and Lynching: The Politics of Memory.
Edited by Evelyn M. Simien.
|Catherine Lloyd||Reinventing the Republic: Gender, Migration, and Citizenship in France.
By Catherine Raissiguier.
Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France.
By Miriam Ticktin.
European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe.
By Fatima El-Tayeb.
|Kristen Barber||Women Confronting Natural Disaster: From Vulnerability to Resilience.
By Elaine Enarson.
The Women of Katrina: How Gender, Race, and Class Matter in an American Disaster.
Edited by Emmanuel David and Elaine Enarson.
|Alexis Shotwell||Sex and Disability.
Edited by Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow.
|Julie P. Torrant||The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries. By Kathi Weeks.
Capitalism, For and Against: A Feminist Debate.
By Ann E. Cudd and Nancy Holmstrom.