City of Women 2006 Symposium

Memory is always formulated by way of language, which is itself the basis of any human communication. Language reflects culture, politics, art, everyday life – indeed everything; and it can either connect people or define boundaries. During the last fifteen years, the Balkans has witnessed not only the emancipation of nations, but also languages. In this part of Europe we followed the example of old romanticists and raised language to the very essence of national entity and identity. In such a context poets are construed as iconic, and as such supposedly reflect this national entity; luckily, such a notion does not encompass women poets. Not only are women writers excluded from this inherent literary canon, they are also – still too often – obstructed by various obstacles that do not allow them to enter literary circles. Literature and the literary canon play a central role within the nationalist politics of memory, thus the exclusion of women from it also engenders their exclusion from the politics of memory. Such segregation and sexual apartheid also necessitates the creation of new means by way of which women's writing may be perceived and understood, and this shall in turn necessitate a surpassing of the established modes of interpretation.

The Gender, Literature and Cultural Memory in the Context of Southeastern Europe symposium will analyse, compare and contrast two periods: the era of Yugoslavia, with its common literary market with established publishing, translation, as well as inter-textual and intercultural links, which were broken as a result of the disintegration of the common state, and the post-conflict literary milieus that today exist in Yugoslavia’s successor states. Although, in the context of the demise of Yugoslavia, the engineering of distinct national languages has been successfully accomplished, these languages have not been devised in such a way to make them incomprehensible to their new neighbouring nations. Through the encounter of an older generation of authors, theorists and publishers – who weren’t merely just good neighbours – with a newer generation who missed the train of brotherhood and unity, the City of Women intends to unveil and identify the shifts in the field of literature, as well as the peculiarities of the individual cultures of memory.

In addition to delivering their own lectures, the lecturers shall exchange their personal experience and perspectives on this subject at the symposium and round table discussion.

Lectures and Lecturers:

The opening lecture of the symposium entitled History and Memory in Women's Writing, delivered by anthropologist Svetlana Slapšak, will address the issue of historiography, which of all the humanities is intrinsically the most suspicious of feminist and gender-based approaches.

Svetlana Slapšak is a classical philologist and anthropologist who teaches at Ljubljana’s Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis (ISH) – Ljubljana Graduate School of the Humanities. Her work is mainly focused on research into women’s cultures in the Balkans – from ancient Greece, through romanticism, to the conflicts of the 1990s and the present day.

In her lecture entitled The Personal as the Political: Croatian Women’s Citizens in (Post)War Republic of Words, the Croatian ethnologist Renata Jambrešić Kirin will address models of memory in women's writing in Croatia, which during the 1990s was marked by collective amnesia and the construction of nationalistic myths.

Renata Jambrešić Kirin is a researcher at the Zagreb Institute of Ethnology and an associate of a local women's studies centre. In her research she mainly investigates ethnological, cultural-critical and feminist perspectives of war and women's role in it.

In the lecture entitled Status of Women Authors in Bosnia-Herzegovina, comparativist Ajla Demiragić shall deal with the work of contemporary Bosnian authors (namely the writer Šejla Šehabović and director Jasmila Žbanić), alternative memory and the revolt against patriarcal discourse.
Ajla Demiragić is an assistant at the Department of Comparative Literature at the Sarajevo University Faculty of Arts, and is particularly interested in feminist literary theory and history.

The lecture Women’s Writing as a Model of Politics of Memory: Post-War Structural Strategies delivered by the writer Šejla Šehabović will address various post-war cultural frameworks and the role of women’s authorship in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Šejla Šehabović is a poet, writer and journalist of the younger generation. She teaches Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian language and literature at Tuzla grammar school. She also works as an editor of Razlika (Difference), a paper aimed at critics and art theorists.

Under the title New Cultural and Authorial Identities in the Process of European Integration: From 'East European' to 'West European' Women's Authorship the poet Maruša Krese will deal with the specifics of conditions for creative work in socialist and post-socialist contexts.
Maruša Krese is a writer, journalist and psychotherapist who for the past fifteen years has lived and worked abroad. She writes poetry published by prominent foreign Slovene language publishers abroad. Prior to this year neither her poetry collections nor her book Pisma Žensk o Vojni in Nacionalizmu (Women’s Letters on War and Nationalism) were published in her homeland; however, with the up-coming publication in Slovenia of Vsi Moji Božiči (All My Christmases), this state of affairs is about to change.

Reinvestigating Freelance Publishing from the perspective of writer, translator and editor Suzana Tratnik will address various meanings, advantages and disadvantages of freelance publishing which affords an opportunity for literature of minority interest, and thus excluded from mainstream commercial publishing, to go into print.
Suzana Tratnik is a sociologist and gender anthropologist, as well as a longstanding activist in the lesbian movement who works as a writer, journalist as well as a publisher.

In her lecture entitled Challenging Writing Practices in Serbia after 2000 poet and theorist Dubravka Đurić will compare individual literary texts as regards their relationship with the Third Balkan War, authorship, as well as socialist and transition ideology.
Dubravka Đurić is a poet, essayist and editor of ProFemina magazine; she is also a lecturer at the Belgrade Centre for Women’s Studies.

Symposium Conception, Organisation and Moderation:

Jelena Petrović is a postgraduate student of the linguistics of speech and theory of social communication at the Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis (ISH – Ljubljana Graduate School of the Humanities). She is involved in research into language, literature and gender anthropology.

Katja Kobolt gained her doctorate in the literary memory of post-Yugoslav wars, at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University. She is active in the field of cultural production, journalism and translation.
Katja Kobolt & Jelena Petrović

Spol, literatura in kulturni spomin v kontekstu jugovzhodne Evrope / Gender, Literature and Cultural Memory in the Context of Southeastern Europe
Svetlana Slapšak, Suzana Tratnik (Slovenia), Maruša Krese (Slovenia / Germany), Renata Jambrešić Kirin (Croatia), Dubravka Đurić (Serbia), Ajla Demiragić, Šejla Šehabović (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Organised and moderated by: Katja Kobolt (Slovenia / Germany) & Jelena Petrović (Slovenia / Serbia)

Organisation and production: City of Women
In collaboration with: Cankarjev dom 
With the support of: ISH-Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis, Skrivanek prevajalske storitve d.o.o.


Date and time of event: 
Oct 09th 10:00 - 18:30
Place of event: 
Cankarjev dom