Course date

24 July - 4 August, 2000
Application deadline
15 February, 2000
Course Director(s): 

Laszlo Kurti

Department of Political Science, Miskolc University, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Andrea Peto

Gender Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Catherine Portuges

Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, United States of America

Dan Rabinowitz

Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Thomas Wilson

Institute of European Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast, Ireland
Course objectives 
By using the concepts of gender and nation, this course examines the way in which they are constructed, negotiated and contested in contemporary life.  By providing current methods, research, and debates, its aim is to show the interdisciplinary nature of studying gender and nation(ality). 
 
As anthropological and feminist studies have shown gender is not independent of the political, economical, and cultural context in which it is devised and experienced; nor are national identities and their political and social realizations impartial as to gender.  On the contrary, during this course we accept and start from the thesis that the category of  'gender' is a major key to the concepts of nations and nationalisms.  Although the constructs of gender and nation are vital elements of people's identities throughout the world, there are many differences in meaning and interpretation of these terms across time and space.  
 
The variability of national identity is partly a result of its intersection with gender. Anthropological and historical research on the roles and relations of men and women in different cultures have led to a broad consensus that gender, similarly to the nation, is a fluid construct.Constituted by, embedded within, and impacting upon a multitude of economic, political, social and cultural processes, both gendered and national identities are inherently diverse and amenable to change. Yet while the rejection of homogenizing, homophobic and transhistorical conceptualizations of these identities are now accepted, we are still at a stage where our understanding of how these complex processes operate, and what they might imply for the increasing global and transnational third millennium remains stubbornly elusive.  
 
With these considerations in mind, one of the most meaningful ways to interrogate identity is arguably to explore what men and women in different cultures and historical settings think and say about constructions of masculinity, femininity, and nationality.  Moreover, how these affect their daily lives, as well as their plans and aspirations. 
 
For these reasons, exploring gender and nations in a comparative cultural context remains both illuminating and worthwhile.  In specific, by  focusing on contemporary nation-states, diaspora nationalism, border cultures, and transnational settings the following questions will be answered:
  • How the making of the nation-state and the idea of the national intersect with sexual and gender constructions?  
  • How ethno-national, local and transnational identities are sexualized and gendered? 
  • What roles do gender and sexuality play in the outcome of religious, political and linguistic revivals and nationalistic awakenings?  
  • How does nation-state formation and ideology influence the constructions of femininity and masculinity?  
  • How has ethnicity, sexuality and gender been politicized in various regimes, nation-states and minority diasporas?
  • How did Stalinism and its later national variants affect ethnic relations, nationalist revivals, and the social construction of gendered national identities?   
 
This course brings together scholars from a diverse academic background including social anthropology, history, film studies and gender studies.  In addition to such interdisciplinarity, scholars from different national traditions (USA, Israel, UK, Hungary) are invited. Finally, by taking this course participants may design their own courses to facilitate curriculum development and to meet general education requirements at home in disciplines including socio-cultural anthropology, ethnic and minority studies, gender and/or women's studies, sociology, political science, border and diaspora studies, social history, cultural and film studies.
 
Course level, target audience 
This two-week course is an introductory exploration for graduate students and junior faculty from Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.  Participants from other countries are also welcome if they wish to gain an understanding of the extremely important intersections of gender, nationality and identity.  The course also targets those who aim to further their academic career by providing important insights into current interdisciplinary debates in the humanities and social sciences about the intersections of the main themes discussed.  All potential applicants should have some basic understanding of these issues.