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Post-war trasistions in gendered perspective: the case of the North-Eastern Adricatic Region

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EIRENE (Post-war trasistions in gendered perspective: the case of the North-Eastern Adricatic Region)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-05-31

The aim of the project is to surpass challenging conceptual deficiency in understanding post-war transitions in light of gender and to offer novel research concepts and perspectives at the intersection of political, social sciences and gender studies, and history. The project is comparatively exploring how crucial transitional periods in a longer historical perspective after both World Wars and after the Yugoslav wars affected women in the territory of the North-Eastern Adriatic. In doing so, four broad thematic fields, namely Politics (WP5), Political violence (WP6), Work (WP7), and Family (WP8) are addressed.

The examined North-Eastern Adriatic region demonstrated manifold changes of political borders and political systems, and an exceptionally violent, what among others resulted in a predominant nationally- and ideologically-based interpretations of the past. The EIRENE project's interest is set beyond such narrow tendencies and on the contrary tends to take advantage of the richness of comparative moments. Moreover, within the transnational geopolitical frame a special attention will be paid to the specifics of the North-Eastern Adriatic region, by which the unified Eurocentric understanding of the 20th century will be transgressed.
The EIRENE project understands the longer historical perspective as a crucial conceptual choice, for many perspectives remain in shadow, if each post-war transition (after 1918, after 1945 and in the 1900s) is dealt with separately. Naturally, each of the three period has its own temporal specifics, but there are many continuities and interpretative dependencies among them. It is well apparent through the existent empirical sources, that their comparison from the gender perspective is well-grounded.

The objectives refer to:
• Introducing a novel interdisciplinary approach that combines conceptual perspectives of political sciences and historiography, the EIRENE project will create a new understanding of the profound consequences of wars in the twentieth-century North-Eastern Adriatic region, focusing on gender relations and on processes of their memorizing.
• The project will examine the modes of exclusion, disempowerment and marginalisation as well as to hitherto much less studied modes of inclusion and empowerment of women in the post-war transition periods.
• The project will evaluate the construction of women’s identities, which are under particular pressure in the post-war transitions – by an intriguing combination of top-down/bottom-up aspects in longue durée perspective and by analysing public representations and normative aspects as well as changes on the collective and individual levels.
• The project will justify the choice of the North-Eastern Adriatic region as a remarkable and yet overlooked European case (“laboratory environment”) to study gender positions and interrelations during post-war transitions in transnational perspective.
Project so far delivered on the promised tasks such as publishing web site, hosting kick-off meeting and several other project meetings. We delivered our first deliverables – WP1 Participation in the Open Research Data Pilot – D1.1 Data management plan and WP2 Ethics requirements, D2.1 POPD Requirement No.8 D2.2 POPD Requirement No.9 D2.3 POPD Requirement No.11 D2.4 GEN – Requirement No.12 and D2.5 GEN Requirement No.13.
All of the researchers participated with their own lectures at international conferences, workshops or participated as chairs, touching upon various project issues.
Project team also organised two workshops and one guest lecture. First workshop organized on 9–10 November 2018, titled “Women and Post-War Transitions: Politics”, has covered the topics of Politics (WP5). In April 25 followed the guest lecture of Ellen Carol DuBois, a researcher who represents a pioneer among historians who dealt with international women’s history of the modern era. Second workshop took place outside of reporting period (6–7 June 2019), but preparations have been undergoing well before that. All of our project members participated as either lecturers or chairs and have presented their work so far. The workshop titled “Women and Post-War Transitions: Violence” covered the topics of Political Violence (WP6). All of the events have been public, recorded and photographed. We have published photographs and videos of lectures on the website and we keep a record of similar events on our web page as well as internal archive. Information on guest lecturers, their abstracts and mini biography are all available on web page.
Researchers have started extensive research on all of the predicted work packages, their work includes visiting libraries and researching data available there, archival research work, oral interviews with persons of interest and also several conferences, where they presented work conducted as part of our project.
The 'inclusion-exclusion paradox'
The challenging aspects of women’s simultaneous exclusions and inclusions in times of transitions, of their inclusions that paradoxically derive from or relate to exclusions and the contrary, are generally not researched. The EIRENE project is filling in the gap by introducing a daring and novel analytical concept, defined as the “exclusion/inclusion paradox” and argue its applicability to various aspects of women’s lives.
Women as 'cross-boundary mediators'
Another aspect of women’s empowerment in times of conflict or post-conflict situations is, for instance, when women form multi-ethnic “peace groups” and thus reject “their position as ‘ethnic boundary-markers’”. A similar pattern of rejecting or transgressing such a position also can be ascribed to housemaids, costermongers and other workers, who were crossing officially closed national borders after World War II on a daily basis in order to work in the places they used to work before the border redefinition. Their role of semi-legal border transgression, by means of which they actually built a (microeconomic) bridge between the places, where official international relations were deficient, can be conceived within a novel ‘cross-boundary mediators’ concept.
Combination of methodological approaches
The basic methodology of the EIRENE project is a comparison, which is being carried out on three levels; on temporal, spatial, and gender level. On the spatial level, the differences between regions will be paid attention to, since such micro-comparison could be less vulnerable to reductionism. However, the project also takes into account larger political unities by employing the approach of histoire croisée and transnational history. Moreover, it takes into consideration also the socio-political setting of the pre-war and war periods in order to elucidate the differences and specificities of post-war periods. Comparisons are also made between genders, but special attention is given to women throughout the project, as they are often invisible in historical accounts and in historicizing. Women’s positions are set within a gender framework, which pays close attention to gender roles and ideologies and is regularly compared with men’s positions. Although the analytical category ‘gender’ is a central element of the project, gender is to be observed in relation to other social factors, such as race, class, generations, educational and religious background etc. by employing the concept of intersectionality.