Bücher | Books - Part 84

posted by PP on 2006/07/10 12:29

[ Bücher | Books ]

The Balkan Academic News Book Review published four new reviews via e-mail-Newsletter. Book Review Editors are Jelena Obradović and Cristina Bradatan, the © belongs to Balkan Academic News:
  • Bojana Balon (Independent Reviewer, Belgrade): Marina Blagojevic (ed.): Mapiranje mizoginije u Srbiji: Diskurzi i prakse (II tom) [Mapping misogyny in Serbia: discourses and practices. Vol. II]. Belgrade: Asocijacija za zenske inicijative 2005, 599 pp. [ISBN 86-83371-06-9]
  • Dimitar Bechev (European Studies Centre, University of Oxford): Carole Hodge: Britain and the Balkans: 1991 until Present. Abingdon: Routledge 2006 (Routledge Advances in European Politics), 260 pp. [ISBN 041529889X]
  • Lara Scarpitta (Centre for Russian & East European Studies, The University of Birmingham): Geoffrey Pridham: Designing Democracy: EU Enlargement and Regime Change in Post-Communist Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2005, xi + 315pp. [ISBN 1403903182]
  • Irina Gigova (College of Charleston, Charleston, SC): Zoltan Barany and Robert G. Moser (eds.): Ethnic Politics after Communism. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press 2005, 282 pp. [ISBN 978-0-8014-7276-3]
Bojana Balon (Independent Reviewer, Belgrade): Marina Blagojevic (ed.): Mapiranje mizoginije u Srbiji: Diskurzi i prakse (II tom) [Mapping misogyny in Serbia: discourses and practices. Vol. II]. Belgrade: Asocijacija za zenske inicijative 2005, 599 pp. [ISBN 86-83371-06-9]

The book represents an epistemological challenge since it introduces a new scientific concept, or a feministic political tool, as the editor writes, which is "above archaic mechanistic perception of social reality" and above strict divisions between scientific disciplines, levels, discourses and structures; namely – mmisogyny.
Different to discrimination, which is a one way process of exclusion, marginalization and setting of barriers, misogyny is based on ambivalence, it is love and hate of women at the same time. Misogyny is broader and more complex then an individual stereotype, belief, behavior or praxis; it links discursive reality and structural social reality. It is a system which is producing and maintaining the patriarchal structure and only from the point of view of the system as such it is possible to understand individual stereotypes or acts of discrimination.
Misogyny does not exclude support to women and adoration of women, which is shown in many positive myths and stereotypes of women – glorification of motherhood, women-mmothers... But these positive myths exist only in the function of maintaining the patriarchate. Parallel to this there are many negative myths and stereotypes, which produce not only social marginalization of women, but also feelings of dissatisfaction, emotional emptiness and failure.
Misogyny is present in basic myths which exist in different cultures and societies, pre-industrial civilizations as well as products of mass culture in 21st Century. These myths are the following: women are filthy, dangerous, intellectually and morally inferior. Also the opposite myths exist: women are beautiful, they represent the sanctuary, they are mothers, they are loyal and they need protection. These myths construct an impossible situation: ambivalence, which produces emotional situation that cannot be challenged by rational arguments. It is based on passion, not on rational thinking.
Misogyny is an institutionalized "phobia", which exists in all human communities iin more or less similar form. It is an unfounded but institutionally supported fear that men have of women. First of all, throughout history men carried out massive crimes against women, and not women against men. Second of all, numerous anthropologic research could not prove the existence of a parallel phenomenon, namely of misandry (women hate of men). This phenomenon is relatively rare, not institutionally supported and more consequential then causal.
The basic economic facts support this: the work of women represents 2/3 of all working hours in the world. For this women receive 1/10 of world income and poses 1/100 of world's wealth. In developed countries the unpaid women's domestic work is estimated at 40-50% of GDP. Women and women's resources are exploited and this is all possible due to symbolic, discursive, institutional practices and through concrete praxis of different actors which produce misogyny. Misogyny produces a system of domination over women, by which women's sexuality is controlled, women's resources exploited and in which they themselves become active agents of patriarchic matrices. Throughout history suffering, adjusting and interiorisation seemed to be the general way of dealing with misogynic situations. "To choose between suffering and mutiny is not only, or at all, a matter of personal choice, but structural factors in concrete social context..."
As a necessity for social change, this book calls upon creation of knowledge on women in a semi-periphery of Europe. The editor points to "the existing vacuum of auto reflexivity of semi-periferical societies" as opposed to the "Center" where knowledgee is produced and further distributed through epistemological and philosophical processes. Production of knowledge is a matter of politics - who has access to defining, mmaking, legitimizing the system of knowledge in a certain culture? Women are far less represented in science then man, the representation of women is lower in hierarchically higher positions, women are mostly present in spheres which are considered closest to their gender roles, and they are concentrated in spheres in which the funds and status is least favorable.
This book offers a challenge to existing system of knowledge. The editor did an excellent job in compiling and connecting into coherent whole valuable texts of more then 40 authors and authoresses on different topics. They focused on historical presence of misogyny in Serbia, the importance of language, reproduction of gender stereotypes, violence against women, women in culture, the construction of identities, body. It presents gender analysis as a means to counter misogyny and means for better understanding of marginalization of women. The authors reminded of more or less famous women from the Serbian history who did not fit in the social constructed models of their time, and of their destinies, and also of women who started organizing women's associations in Serbia. Some authors addressed the invisibility of women in established Serbian literature and the issues of women's poetry and literature, and they successfully explored the crucial spheres of construction of gender - patriarchal family, the media, literature, llanguage, history, religion, popular culture. They represented also the position of double marginalized groups of women in society - old women, women alcoholics, women partners of alcoholics, lesbians and Roma women. Unfortunately there is no reference to farming women who represent an important and especially vulnerable social group in all of the transition countries. Their "absence" points not only to their complete lack of social power but also that there exists a periphery of semi-periphery of which we should be more aware of.
Nevertheless the book, which is unfortunately available only in Serbian, successfully challenges misogyny with a multidisciplinary approach and affirms a different perspective.

Dimitar Bechev (European Studies Centre, University of Oxford): Carole Hodge: Britain and the Balkans: 1991 until Present. Abingdon: Routledge 2006 (Routledge Advances in European Politics), 260 pp. [ISBN 041529889X]

The overwhelming influence of the Great Powers on local developments is a familiar theme in Balkan history and politics. One school of thought tends to blame external interventions for many of the region's misfortunes over the past two centuries. Another draws attention to the aptitude with which the locals have used the mighty outsiders to secure their own interests. Carole Hodge's critical account of the UK policy in the Balkans, meaning former Yugoslavia as she is careful to point out, is much closer to the former mode of thinking. The book deals with Britain's involvement in a series of crises marking the break-up of the federation and its aftermath: from the war in Croatia to the turmoil in Macedonia during 2001. The author's assessment is certainly not sympathetic to. While many have blamed Germany for pushing for early recognition of Slovenia and Croatia, this time Britain emerges as the chief culprit behind the EC/EU's impotence to tackle the wars in ex-Yugoslavia and their aftermath. While this claim has been developed by others before, notably by Brendan Simms in his Unfinest Hour: How Britain Helped to Destroy Bosnia, Carole Hodge pushes it a few steps further. Like Simms, Hodge accuses the Conservative government of John Major for its policy of non-intervention in Bosnia based on the 'ancient hatreds' interpretation of the conflict, which ultimately cost more than 100,000 lives on all sides by the time the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed. However, what Simms sees as a failure of judgment, Hodge interprets as a pattern of behaviour stemming from Britain's positioning in post-Cold War Europe.
Thus, the first chapter on the war in Slovenia and Croatia argues that the Britain's initial support for preserving the unity of Yugoslavia and focus on Milosevic as the main interlocutor of the EC helped Belgrade to establish control over Croatia's territory (pp. 21-3). Even at this early stage,   Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd rejected European military involvement in the conflict which Hodge attributes to the apprehensions over the potential development of robust European foreign and security policy under the Maastricht Treaty which was being negotiated at the time. What follows is five chapters focusing on the war in Bosnia. Here, the author scores a few points in favour of her main argument. For instance, she takes issue with the notion that the UK government's support for the sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro demonstrated a more even-handed approach towards the crisis, in that  and shows that this move too late to halt he Serb aggression (pp. 32-3). Moreover, sanctions were initially imposed on Yugoslavia as a whole they were inherited by the successor states which greatly disadvantaged the Bosnian Muslims. Later in the conflict, Britain engaged in what Hodge terms 'diplomacy by cartography': a series of peace plans which sought to accommodate ('appease') the Serbs and in effect inaugurate the principle of ethnic partition. This, in her view, provided an incentive for the Serbs and Croats to push with territorial conquest (p. 79). UNPROFOR and, in particularly, General Michael Rose are equally a butt of criticism for their role in undermining the NATO efforts to deter the Bosnian Serbs in 1994.  Hodge portrays the US turn towards interventionism manifest in the Bosniak-Croat alliance, the rearmament of Croatia and, ultimately, NATO's attack against the Serb forces in Bosnia.
The chapters on the post-Dayton era are equally condemning but far less convincing. Hodge is highly critical of the Dayton Accord itself but overlooks the fact that back in 1995 Dayton was the best amongst many bad solutions. In any case, blaming British diplomacy for the arrangement's shortcomings as well as for the involvement of private company, NatWest, as a consultant in the ill-famed purchase of Serbia's Telecom by a Greek-Italian consortium is off the mark. It is hard to accept the claim that New Labour continued the policy of the Tory government too. Thus the Franco-British deal of St Malo European Council (December 1998) laying the foundations of the European Security and Defence Policy is interpreted as a Machiavellian maneuver ensuring Europe does not develop a robust security policy (pp. 144 ff). Oddly enough, sections devoted to that issue are bundled together in a chapter dealing with Labour government's conciliatory approach to Serb nationalists in Bosnia.
The book's analysis of the British foreign-policy behaviour during the Kosovo crisis is no more persuasive. The author rightly recognizes that Tony Blair's strong support for military action was a clear departure from the policy of appeasing Milosevic in the early 1990s. Still it is a bit too far-fetched to claim that what was at stake was scoring a point against the EU as a leading security institution in Europe. The implication is that Tory non-interventionism in Bosnia was, in fact, not much different from Blair's (and his EU counterparts') interventionism. For one thing, interventionism reflected the lessons learned during the preceding stages of the Yugoslav drama - notably the failure to project military force in order to stop Milosevic. It is also a stretch of the imagination to claim that a NATO ground operation in Kosovo, as advocated by Blair to the skeptical US policy-makers and military commanders, would have led to Bosnia-style compromises with Milosevic (p. 163).
The author ends with three chapters on the post-Milosevic period. Here, Britain 's attitude to the Balkans is described as favouring Serbia as a provider of valuable commercial and investment opportunities. While this observation may be correct to the extent that the UK policymakers has recognized Serbia as a pivotal state in the Western Balkans economic interest provides no clue. In fact, other EU states such as Austria, Greece or Italy have been much more important as trading and investment partners for Belgrade. The author also seems to imply that Serbia's failure to deal with its past, unlike other countries in former Yugoslavia like Croatia, has been overlooked. This is, however, hardly the case given the very slow progress Belgrade has been scoring on the path to NATO and EU membership compared to other parts of the former SFRY. Apart from being too keen to bolster Serbia Britain is accused of a number of sins including Paddy Ashdown's heavy-handed style of governance in Bosnia (incidentally affecting the same nationalist forces in Republika Srpska whom Hodge speaks against earlier in her book), the incompetence of British employed in UNMIK's economic pillar, the dysfunctional union between Serbia and Montenegro and even imperialism.
The book contributes to our understanding of the break up of Yugoslavia and international involvement but should be taken with a few grains of salt when dealing with post-1995 Western Balkans.

Lara Scarpitta (Centre for Russian & East European Studies, The University of Birmingham): Geoffrey Pridham: Designing Democracy: EU Enlargement and Regime Change in Post-Communist Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2005, xi + 315pp. [ISBN 1403903182]

Following the 'big bang' enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) an array of new contributions have been published on the transformative role that the process of accession to the EU had on the domestic politics and policy choices of post-communist countries [1]. 'Designing Democracy', Geoffrey Pridham's new book, sets out to analyse in a systematic way the impact of EU democratic conditionality on the political systems of the countries of CEE and the extent to which the process of EU integration has encouraged and strengthened democratic consolidation.
Drawing on an extensive list of elite interviews in Brussels and in several countries of CEE, the book attempts to identify the areas and scope of EU influence on democratizing states and the role played by domestic factors in facilitating or constraining this process. The book layout largely reflects this overarching design. The first chapter sets out the main theoretical debates on the role of international factors and domestic politics in promoting or complicating the process of democratization in transition countries. Drawing primarily on theories of regime change, integration theories and the growing literature on Europeanization, the author develops an 'interactive approach' to the process of Europeanization and democratization in post-communist countries which combines, rather than separates, international and domestic factors and aims at capturing the dynamics of democratization at different levels of the regime change process. Chapter 2 focuses on the development and application of EC/EU's strategy of democratic conditionality prior to and following the collapse of the communist regimes in 1989. Chapter 3 presents a comparative study of the domestic politics in the candidate countries and their motivation for seeking full membership. The three successive chapters focus specifically on the domestic environment. Chapter 4 analyses the impact of the process of accession on governance while Chapter 5 looks at the role played by intermediary actors, such as political parties and the media, in facilitating or complicating the potential impact of EU democratic conditionality. Chapter 6 looks at the impact of the process of European integration on civil societies and the economic environment.
Overall this is a thoroughly researched book and credit should be given to Pridham's effort to shed light on the extensive constellation of factors which shaped the process of democratization in post-communist countries. No doubt one of the book's greatest values is to condense the numerous issues faced by scholarly research when trying to depict precisely the role played by the EU and domestic politics in the process of democratization of the former communist countries of CEE. Regrettably, however, the author fails to provide viable answers to the myriad of questions he raised nor does he offer any meaningful analytical tools to guide researchers. Two further criticisms can be raised. Firstly the book would have much benefited from an introductory chapter laying out in a perhaps traditional format the main research questions and arguments presented by the author. The lack of a clear research outline often leaves the reader wondering on the actual scope of the arguments being put forward. Secondly, although the book is well researched, it fails to convey theoretical complexity in an accessible language.
Despite these inherent limitations, the book is in itself an interesting portrayal of the complex dynamic of the roles played by international and domestic factors in the process of democratization of post-communist countries. To this end, it could interest students and researchers on the process of democratization in the context of Enlargement as well as those studying Europeanization and regime change theories.

[1] See in particular: Heather Grabbe: The EU's Transformative Power: Europeanization through conditionality in Central and Eastern Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2006; F. Schimmelfenning and U. Sedelmeier (eds.): The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press 2005; Milada Anna Vachudova: Europe Undivided. Democracy, Leverage and Integration after Communism. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2005.

Irina Gigova (College of Charleston, Charleston, SC): Zoltan Barany and Robert G. Moser (eds.): Ethnic Politics after Communism. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press 2005, 282 pp. [ISBN 978-0-8014-7276-3]

During the last two decades the minority problem figured prominently in the public life of post-communist Eastern Europe. The work of NGOs such as The Open Society in promoting knowledge and tolerance of local ethnic communities, the oversight of EU institutions over the legal and social status of minorities, and the rise of ethnic parties have publicized the nature of minority-majority relations in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. Not surprisingly, post-communist ethnopolitics have attracted considerable academic attention over the years. The volume under review originated in a 2003 symposium at the University of Texas and takes a timely look at the success and impact of these policies.
The authors are well known and accomplished scholars of political science, sociology, government and international relations from North America. The seven main articles cover a swathe of countries, from the former Soviet Union to Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania and even Cote d’Ivoire. A couple of the texts, such as Charles King’s exploration of migrations and Will Kymlicka’s evaluation of EU ad hoc regulations on national minorities, deliberately pursue transnational frame of analysis. The approaches of the authors also vary widely. David D. Laitin uses surveys to explore individual attitudes in Estonia, while Zoltan Barany compares the mobilization of the Albanians in Macedonia to the East European Roma from an eagle’s eye perspective. Daniel Chirot turns to history to pose the key question: "What provokes violent ethnic conflict?", while King enters the comfort zone of anthropologists to focus on institutional cultures and ethnic networks to explain patterns of migration.
What can one make of these diverse contributions? Fortunately, the collection eschews the uneven quality that all too frequently defines conference volumes. Instead, it reveals a careful selection, superb scholarship, excellent editorial work and a fastidious reviewing process. The editors’ decision to have "two senior experts on ethnopolitics" (xi) - Ronald Grigor Suny and Roger D. Petersen – write the introduction and conclusion to the volume brings in two additional viewpoints. For readers seeking the gist of individual contributions, I heartily recommend Suny’s succinct opening chapter. Petersen’s closing remarks uncover the commonalities that hold these rather diverse articles together and suggest omissions and further possibilities for study.
Even with these two independent perspectives, one finds it taxing to arrive at a concise picture of the nature of East European ethnopolitics after 1989. Part of the problem is the real distinction between the experiences of the former Soviet republics and the other East European countries, which, with the exception of Yugoslavia, were more or less established nation-states at the dawn of the Cold War. Mark R. Beissinger explores the peculiarity of the Soviet case in a fascinating chapter on the imperial character of the Bolshevik state. The Soviet Union, he argues, was “a new form of empire,” which used “the very cornerstones of the modern nation-state system – the norms of state sovereignty and national self-determination – as instruments of nonconsensual control over culturally distinct populations, therefore blurring the line between state and empire” (17). This “affirmative action empire” that Terry Martin has so aptly described arranged ethnic groups in a clear hierarchy. At the same time it promoted their cultural distinction and even self-governance that, ironically, accelerated the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The consequences of the Soviet ethno-federal model are clearly seen in David Laitin’s exploration of the post-communist experience of Russians in Estonia. With the collapse of the empire Russians found themselves in a reversed relationship of power, surrounded by nationalist and rather hostile Estonians. A decade later, however, Laitin found ethnic politics based on integration, a result of secure Estonian identity, party rivalries, EU pressures and responsible politicians. The legacy of ethno-federalism also figures prominently in Robert G. Moser’s empirical comparison of party politics in Lithuania and Russia. He challenges dominant thinking that ethnic parties inevitably fragment and destabilize the political process, and argues that the Soviet model today continues to allow political participation of minority groups in Russia.
The imperial legacy of the Soviet Union and the malleability of ethnicity it allowed carry less interpretative power in the remaining essays. Zoltan Barany, who works in a context of ossified ethnic boundaries, goes straight to developing a general model of successful ethnic mobilization. He then uses it to explain the Macedonian Albanians’ assertive defense of their interests, as well as the failure of developing a uniform identity among the East European Roma. Interestingly, the author sees Gypsy ethnic unity across tribal and state borders as the only road to their unproblematic integration in East European society.
Daniel Chirot also uses the experience of Eastern Europe to think broadly of the process of national formation and ethnic violence. Why was it, he asks, that two economically depressed and nationalist communist regimes – Bulgaria and Romania – transitioned peacefully to multiethnic democracy, while the rather successful former colony of Cote d’Ivoire fell victim to ethnic and religious animosities? His conclusion is both simple and troubling in its implications. The Eastern European countries remained peaceful in times of crisis because they had older and more secure nationalisms than the African case (or Yugoslavia for that matter). Chirot is far from deterministic though; he argues that both local leaders and the international community can make a difference in the progression of a minority-majority conflict.
The last two articles turn their gaze to international issues that involve a precarious balance of institutional and national interests. Charles King looks at the waves of migrations - forced or voluntary, long and short-term - in Europe since the 1980s. His case-studies explore new "diaspora laws" (such as the Hungarian Status Law) and the trafficking of sex-workers to show that population moves are not just a result of personal decisions. States, in particular weak states, are important actors in the legal and illegal border crossing in Europe. Will Kymlicka also examines institutional intentions, in this case the EU and NATO, to show the challenges in articulating general principles on minority rights. As EU members tried to balance their own minority policies with the interests of post-communist nation-states, they ultimately failed to draft norms that could satisfy the warring parties in places such as Bosnia, Moldova or Chechnya. Kymlicka, however, is ultimately optimistic. Today we at least have a widely agreed-upon legal framework of minority rights that will allow post-communist societies over time to reach agreements with their own minorities.
So what do these articles tell us of ethnic politics in Eastern Europe? As Petersen observes, they all indicate how important the West has been in shaping East European minority relations. Albeit reluctantly, most of the states are following the recommendations of EU observers. Many minorities are taking advantage of the democratic system to make their voices heard. A stellar example that I know well is the Turkish party in Bulgaria (The Movement for Rights and Freedoms), which is now the third political force in parliament. Because of these democratic processes, it seems highly unlikely that ethnic violence could erupt in the region, although, as Kymlicka wryly concludes, radicalization of ethnic demands is more often rewarded than punished by the existing legal framework. For a volume that discusses the situation after communism, it is unfortunate that only Beissinger and Chirot address the actual legacy of the old regime on ethnic relations. As Petersen rightly notes, this is a field that deserves further consideration.
Finally, these essays tell a lot about identity formation and reformulation. The editors claim that ethnicity is "contested, malleable and constructed" (x). Indeed, it is clear that Eastern Europe undergoes simultaneously processes of softening and hardening of ethnic boundaries.


Senior Editor

Seitenwechsel. Geschichten vom Fußball. Hgg. v. Samo Kobenter u. Peter Plener. Wien: Bohmann 2008, 237 pp.
(Weitere Informationen hier)
Transcarpathica. Germanistisches Jahrbuch Rumänien 3-4/2004-2005. Hgg. v. Andrei Corbea-Hoisie u. Alexander Rubel. Bukarest/Bucuresti: Editura Paideia 2008, 336 pp.
[Die online-Fassung meines Einleitungsbeitrags "Thesen zur Bedeutung der Medien für Erinnerungen und Kulturen in Mitteleuropa" findet sich auf Kakanien revisited (Abstract / .pdf).]
Seitenweise. Was das Buch ist. Hgg. v. Thomas Eder, Samo Kobenter u. Peter Plener. Wien: Bundespressedienst 2010, 480 pp.
(Weitere Informationen hier wie da, v.a. auch do. - und die Rezension von Ursula Reber findet sich hier [.pdf].)
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