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Review of Racioppi, Linda; See, Katherine O'Sullivan, eds., Gender Politics in Post-Communist Eurasia

Lovin, Carmen-Laura (2011) Review of Racioppi, Linda; See, Katherine O'Sullivan, eds., Gender Politics in Post-Communist Eurasia. H-Net. pp. 1-6. ISSN 1538-0661

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Abstract

As Europe was celebrating twenty years from the dismantling of the Central and Eastern European communist regimes and the Soviet Union, the 2009 publication of Gender Politics in Post-Communist Eurasia came as a welcome contribution to the transnational feminist scholarship and a timely evaluation of the gender dimensions of the intense social, economic, and political transformations undergone by the countries of the former communist bloc. The volume edited by Linda Racioppi and Katherine O’Sullivan See brings together important gendered inquiries into recent reconfigurations that emerged in areas such as political representation, citizenship rights, nation building and national identity formation, privatization, marketization and economic opportunity, and social inequality; furthermore, it addresses prominent and common trends in the ongoing discussions and policies that address gender inequality, while offering a careful mapping of the uneven terrain of gender politics, which has been shaped not only by the distinctive histories, local politics, economics, and demographics of the countries under analysis but also by their embeddedness in different geopolitical configurations as well as by their specific relationships with international and transnational organizations and forces. Written by twelve contributors, who speak from diverse geopolitical and institutional positionalities, this collection spans a variety of thematic concerns (women's labor migration, women's participation in politics, women’s work, women's mobilizations for equality and women's access to rights), disciplinary angles (public policy, anthropology, political theory, historical analysis, sociology, and interdisciplinary approaches to gender politics), methodological approaches, and geographical spaces. Divided into two main sections, the volume promotes an understanding of two separated fields of geopolitical production of gender politics: the first examines Central and Eastern Europe and the second looks at Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. As the editors of the volume acknowledge themselves, given that "local, national and international/ transnational gender politics are not easily segmented," such a division might seem problematic at first sight (p. 31). Nonetheless, Racioppi and O'Sullivan See make a good case arguing that the "proximity to Western Europe" and "the potential for EU accession" are two powerful forces that impacted and ultimately differentiated the still unfolding trajectories of the two locales (p. 31). Thus, the organization of the volume responds to previous critiques that signaled the slow reaction of the international public in noticing the relevance of Central Asia to current processes of global change. In setting the two side by side, Racioppi and O’Sullivan See redress the omission and bring to the fore the common social, economic, and political genealogy of communism that countries in Central and Eastern Europe share with Russia and their counterparts in Central Asia, and the Caucasus, while offering an inclusive body of literature that addresses the changes undergone by gender regimes in most of the countries of the former communist bloc.