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Vol. 18 n° 2 | 2023- Balkan Arts and Literatures (19-21th centuries) Through the Lens of Feminist Engagement

Deadline for submission of paper proposals: May 6th, 2022

Coordination: Naïma Berkane and Lola Sinoimeri

Women’s movements and the history of feminist engagement in the Balkans are a well-established academic field in social sciences. Many researchers contributed to shed light on the specificity of the South-East European context at large in the 20th century using a comparative approach while distinguishing the different movements’ chronologies according to the situation of the different countries. Whether it was in the so-called “national revival” movements in the 19th and early 20th centuries, or during the interwar period, after World War Two, or in the 1970s, or after the fall of the various communist regimes and the dissolution of Yugoslavia, women committed themselves and/or organized themselves around feminist issues.

Scholars in the region in literature and gender studies have already focused their research on the literary and artistic history of the Balkans. The so-called post-Yugoslav literature, for example, has been extensively studied from a feminist and/or transnational perspective (Lukić 2017; Matijević 2020). Others have worked on historicizing these artistic and literary phenomena while offering feminist theory and critique (Zelenović 2020; Blagojević, Kolozova, Slapšak 2006; Petrović 2018).

This issue of the review Balkanologie aims to interrogate the specificity of feminist engagement in Balkan arts and literatures. What about the literary and artistic engagement of women for their rights and/or in the scope of feminist movements? What are the specificities of these forms of artistic engagement in the different Balkan countries?

These interrogations invite us to lie at the intersections of two historical topics. First, we will observe the different contexts in which women’s living conditions changed and political movements appeared: from the 19th century, when the women question emerged, through the socialist and Kemalist projects where the theme of women’s emancipation became a tool for “fundamental legitimization” (Giomi, Zerman 2018), to the liberal transitions that redefined their place in society. All these transformations have had an impact on the different strategies of women’s appearance in literary and artistic fields. Second, these commitments will be studied through the lens of the history of relations between arts, literature and politics in these countries. Literary and artistic history of the South-East European countries, often referred to as literary and artistic “peripheries” (Casanova 2008), is marked by its relationship to politics: thus, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, arts and literature were actively involved in the so-called “national revival” or “national reconstruction” movements. Then, under socialism, the regimes called writers and artists to define their work according to their commitment and social critique, and even, for some of them, to subordinate their art to politics. In these contexts, we cannot only think of the engaged intellectual as an “outsider” (Saïd, 1996) or as a dissident. Spaces of friction between collaboration and subversion or dissent seem therefore particularly relevant for this study. Engagement can even, in highly politicized contexts, take on anti-political (Kemp-Welch, 2017) or “escapist” forms.

While scholarship has already been produced on issues of women’s representation, here we wish to focus on the agency of women artists and writers, both in their artistic productions or in their feminist modes of organisation in the literary and artistic fields. This issue invites researchers to think about political engagement in artworks, its aesthetic implications, but also as action and mode of organisation for women in the literary and artistic fields: women can get involved as creators or writers, but also by occupying other functions in these fields - we think specifically of art critics, technical professions, translators, etc.

We invite contributors to understand the label “feminist” in a broad sense: some women artists or writers may not have used it for themselves, or may even have rejected it (Lóránd, 2018). However, the analysis can address their engagement, trajectory and artistic productions as feminist. This open definition of the term “feminist” refers to any political, artistic, literary engagement that highlights the specificity of women’s living conditions and the oppressions women face as a social group.

This issue is open to contributions from different fields in human and social sciences (literature, art history, aesthetics, philosophy, history, sociology, geography, anthropology, political science). Wishing to contribute to the writing of a “intertwined, transnational and comparative” feminist intellectual history of the Balkans (Daskalova, 2018), we strongly encourage works that propose a comparative and transdisciplinary perspective.

Proposal submission

Proposals for articles, in either French or English, will be sent by e-mail to the editors of the issue, Lola Sinoimeri ( and Naïma Berkane ( on 6th May 2022 at the latest. They will include the title, an abstract (up to 500 words), five key-words, a bio-bibliographic note and the authors’ contact information. The authors will be informed by the editors about the selection of proposals by e-mail in June 2022. Authors will then be required to submit a first version of their papers before 18th December 2022 at the latest. The articles will be submitted to dual-anonymous peer reviewing, after which authors will have a month to modify their papers according to the remarks, critics and suggestions received. The issue should finally be published in autumn 2023.


Blagojević Jelisaveta, Kolozova Katerina et Slapšak Svetlana (dir.), Gender and Identity: Theories from and/or on Southeastern Europe, Belgrade, Centar za ženske studije & Centar za studije roda i politike, Fakultet političkih nauka, 2006.

Casanova Pascale, La République mondiale des Lettres [The World Republic of Letters], Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 2008.

Daskalova Krassimira, « Women’s and Gender History in the Balkans: Looking Back Over 50 years of Teaching and Research », Clio. Women, Gender, History, vol. 2, no 48, 2018, p. 181-191.

Giomi Fabio, Zerman Ece, « The (Post-)Ottoman World Through the Prism of Gender », Clio. Women, Gender, History, vol. 2, no 48, 2018, p. 7-16.

Kemp-Welch Lucy, Antipolitics in Central European Art, Londres, I.B. Tauris, 2017.

Lóránd Zsofia, The Feminist Challenge to the Socialist State in Yugoslavia, Londres, Palgrave MacMillan, 2018.

Lukić Jasmina, « Rod i migracija u postjugoslovenskoj književnosti kao transnacionalnoj književnosti » [Gender and Migration in Post-Yugoslav Literature as Transnational Literature], Reč, no 87.33, 2017, p. 273-291.

Matijević Tijana, From Post-Yugoslavia to the Female Continent: a Feminist Reading of Post-Yugoslav Literature, Bielefeld, Transcript, 2020.

Petrović Jelena, Women’s Authorship in Interwar Yugoslavia: The Politics of Love and Struggle, Londres, Palgrave MacMillan, 2018.

Saïd Edward, Representations of the intellectual: the 1993 Reith lectures, New York, Vintage Books, 1996.

Zelenović Ana Simona, « Teoretizacija feminističke umetnosti u socijalističkoj Jugoslaviji » [Theorising Feminist Arts in Socialist Yugoslavia], Genero, no 24, 2020, p. 71-111.

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