Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Moment

Online-Blockseminar der Gastdozentinnen Assoc. Prof. Agnieszka Graff und Assoc. Prof. Elżbieta Korolczuk im Mai und Juni in Jena

In recent decade in country after country, religious ultraconservatives have built successful alliances with right-wing populists: together they have attacked the rights of women, and sexual and ethnic minorities, promoting what conservatives call “family values.” This interdisciplinary course examines this new phase of global struggles around gender equality and sexual democracy: the ultraconservative mobilization against “gender ideology” and feminist efforts to counteract it. We will study the anti-gender campaigns, which emerged around 2010 in Europe, as part of a new political configuration: the rise of right-wing populism. Mobilization against “gender” has played an important role in the consolidation of the new populist right as a transnational movement that successfully harnesses the anxiety, shame and anger caused by neoliberalism. In fact, anti-gender rhetoric is best understood as a reactionary critique of neoliberalism as a socio-cultural formation.  

While much of the material examined will focus on Europe (especially Poland, but also Croatia, Germany, France, Sweden and Russia), we will extensively discuss transnational networks such as the World Congress of Families and Agenda Europe, and developments in other continents, including the US and Latin America. The course will offer insight into the rapid growth of coalitions between ultraconservative, mainly religious organizations and right-wing populist forces around the issue of gender, as well as the opposition against anti-genderism. We will read texts by the anti-gender activists and pundits, as well as scholarly studies of the phenomenon. We will also engage in theoretical questions: what is populism? How can we conceptualize the relation between anti-gender campaigns and populism? What is the relationship between neoliberalism and feminism globally and more specifically in Easter Europe? Is there a populist feminism? What is the role of Central-Eastern Europe and Russia a special position vis-à-vis the West in contemporary struggles around gender?    

Session 1. Introduction: What are the anti-gender campaigns and where do they come from?

Session 2. The populist moment: introduction to studies on populism and conceptualizations of the relation between (anti)gender and populism

Session 3. Who is afraid of gender? Explaining the support for the anti-gender campaigns

Session 4. Women in the “war on gender”: women’s mobilizations on the right and on the left

Session 5. Gender, populism and emotions: a cultural studies approach Session

6. Cultural history of the anti-genderism I: Anti-colonial frame, gender and nation  Session

7. Cultural history of the anti-genderism II: Conspiratorial thinking and Anti-Semitism

Session 8. Feminism, neoliberalism and the East-West divide after 1989  

Unterrichtssprache: Englisch  

Termine: 21./22.5.; 28./29.5. (Elżbieta Korolczuk); Agnieszka Graff (4./5.6.; 11./12.6.), jeweils 10-14 Uhr (c.t.)  

Anmeldung: Über Friedolin oder per Email an: