Feminism Around The Globe: A Cooperation Between Artists, Experts, and Students from Strasbourg

Written by Eva Guillot & Ennio Mos

Strasbourg is known for its vibrant cultural life, and MA Euroculture students have had the opportunity to contribute to it by organizing a cultural event during their second semester. 

This is the case for Clara, Eliisa, Emma, Ennio and Eva, who put in place an art exhibition at the Librarie Le Tigre on “feminist movements around the globe.” The event seeks to reflect the cultural differences that mark various feminist movements, particularly in contrast to the French feminist movement, which is better known to the people of Strasbourg. To arouse the curiosity of the public and to make them aware of the transnational character of feminist struggles, this exhibition showcases the work of three local artists from Strasbourg: Leontine Soulier, Manon Saumand and Wonderbabette.

About the Artists 

Leontine Soulier is an illustrator and speaks of her history and the world around her. We see life, bodies, nature, and things that revolt or disturb her. With poetry and ever-present metaphor, she tries to finely instil ideas: to say a little, but not too much, to leave the reader free to read these images according to their own feelings, their experience, and their identity. For the exhibition, Leontine presented two illustrations in which she placed naked women’s bodies in curious positions, embedded in beautiful landscapes that remind us of the world abroad; without knowing exactly where this scenery takes place. It is hard to tell if those women are uncomfortable or peaceful: the artist wants to bring attention to the way that women need to constantly adapt to the world around them, wherever they go, keeping in mind their challenging position in a patriarchal society.

Manon Saumande is an artist and Master’s student in Plastic Arts at the University of Strasbourg. Her research subject is largely focused on the tensioning of the female body, as well as its strangeness. Particularly, Manon’s photographic work highlights the female nude through the self-portrait, using an intimate camera: the Polaroid. This kind of art can be considered controversial in some cultures as it challenges the boundaries of prudishness, and it exemplifies the variety of perceptions of and reactions to the female body in different cultural settings. It was the first time Manon participated in an art exhibition with her art, making this event a valuable opportunity for her to experience how it is to present self-made art to an audience, and an honour for the audience to experience her art for the first time.

Babette Rezicinier, aka Wonderbabette, is a multi-talented contemporary artist who conveys her candour and bubbly energy through her productions. She varies her modes of creations and never fails to surprise the public with her tender and witty way of interpreting the world and femininity. One of her installations is currently exhibited at the Librairie Le Tigre. In a tiny suitcase, you can find a screen that displays the injunctions of “good conduct” that used to shape women’s behaviour in relation to men. Whether the absurdity of those rules makes us laugh or leaves us sour, it is a relief to see that they have disappeared today; much credit and thanks to the work of feminist movements over the years.

The Exhibition Launch

On Friday June 3rd, 2022, two speakers were invited to the opening event of this exhibition and shared their expertise on the theme of transnational feminism with the public. The first speaker of the evening was Claudia Lam, a representative of the Council of Europe. With her experience as Deputy to the Director at the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, she talked about the approach of the Council of Europe in terms of safeguarding women’s rights and promoting gender equality. By explaining complex concepts, such as the Istanbul Convention in rather general terms, she made her speech accessible for a wide audience to absorb and share. Lam concluded her talk by stressing the importance of intersectionality: the recognition that each individual has unique life experiences, and that the intersections of race and class, for example, with sex and gender must be taken into account when discussing discrimination and feminism. 

The second speaker at the exhibition opening was Yvette Marcela Garcia. This expert is a cultural worker in the associative sector, has a doctorate in sociology without a post, is a lecturer at the University of Strasbourg, and a researcher associated with the Lincs Laboratory. Her research focuses on the sociology of social relations, feminist studies and the sociology of migrations. As a Franco-Chilean child of exile, she is interested in feminism in Latin America, especially in Chile. During the opening evening, Garcia gave an inspiring overview of the evolution of feminist movements in Chile, how they influenced and were influenced by other movements in Latin America. The point was to explore connecting cultures, and it was interesting to see that while feminism all over the world struggles with the same issues,  there are still regional or cultural differences. 

This event has shown to be a mixture of two worlds where art and expertise came together. Even though both disciplines do not per definition have the same target group as audience, their combination has been proven a valuable opportunity to increase the number of interested people. Whether a message is conferred through paint, photos, installations, or speeches, at the end of the day it is about reaching people the best way we can – and a multidisciplinary approach can help us do so. Therefore, we encourage everyone to think about how art, music, theatre, literature, speech, and all other sorts of cultural activities can be combined to strengthen any message worth spreading.  

This exhibition on feminism around the globe was on display from June 3rd until June 17th, 2022 at Librarie Le Tigre.


Pictures credit: Costanza Bossi

The labyrinth of sex work regulations: assessing policy approaches in Europe

By Bryan Bayne (Olomouc, Uppsala, 2020–2022) and Carolina Reyes (Uppsala, Olomouc, 2021–2023).

It is hard not to notice the bright neon of the windows in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. And if you are a Latino like us, that comes as a culture shock – throughout Latin America prostitution is deeply frowned upon and mostly relegated to the darkest corners of society. So we naturally asked ourselves: what is the European sex work culture? How does it differ from other places and what are its effects on society?

As we expected, it turns out there is no single Europe-wide attitude to sex work. There are four different policy approaches and our objective with this article is to analyze them and find out which ones are “the best.” When analyzing public policy, the best approach is a cost-benefit analysis applied to whether that policy achieves its stated aims or not. This allows for a greater degree of objectivity and frees us from most of the moral biases stemming from culture and religion. 

In this case, we argue that the primary objective of any law concerning sex work is promoting the welfare of sex workers — the majority of which are women. The secondary objective should be to curb human trafficking; we rank this as the second objective because we believe law enforcement is primarily responsible for that task and sex work policy is merely complimentary. 

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Who will chicken out first? Europe facing Russia´s demands for gas payments in roubles

By Barbora Volková

This article is written by the newest addition of the editorial team: Barbora Volková (Czech, cohort 2021/2023). She studied in Udine during her first semester and is currently doing her second semester in Groningen.

It has been more than a month since Russian troops without justification attacked Ukrainian territory on the 24th of February. As a result, Moscow has been facing massive sanctions, pushing the Federation to the edge of its economic limits. President Vladimir Putin at the end of March announced a signature of a decree allowing payments for Russian gas only through accounts in Russian banks. What does it mean for the future of European energy trade?

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The Green Deal and Russian Oil: is the EU doing enough to become energy independent?

By Laura de Boer

Last summer, on 14 July 2021, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal, a set of measures aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy, and saving the environment. The Commission is happy to point out that this package of climate policies is ambitious and progressive while remaining achievable. And while it is true that the size of the Green Deal is mind-boggling – it is certainly impossible to analyse its entirety in an article like this – the question remains whether it will be enough. Especially now that the war in Ukraine has made it clear that the European Union is still very dependent on Russian gas and oil.

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Modern Slavery in the Council of Europe’s Member States

By Anna Oliwia Wierzbicka

The phenomenon of slavery has accompanied humanity since the times of great civilizations and perhaps even longer. Its history on the European continent can be traced back to the cradle of European values – Ancient Greece and Rome. Nowadays, slavery is primarily associated with colonial powers or with thousands of people from East Africa being transported to cotton plantations in the United States of America. The 19th century marked the abolition of slavery in many countries. Does this mean that slavery has ceased to exist? In 2017, it was estimated that 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern forms of slavery, which include debt bondage, forced labour, human trafficking and forced marriage

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DEBATE: The European Chips Act — Mission (Im) Possible? 

By Lena Eisenreich. After her semesters in Strasbourg, Kraków and Udine she is now writing her thesis about Youth Lobbying in Strasbourg. She holds a BA in European Business. Recently she was gathering Sales experience from the automotive industry towards Big Tech. Currently, she is involved in various think-tanks such as European Horizons as a Director of Sponsorships and Fundraiser for Culture Solutions.

This article belongs to our new DEBATE series. These are thought-provoking articles meant to start important conversations. We encourage all readers to write their thoughts to our email. We will then publish responses to this article and create a chain of debate pieces on this website.

“Let’s be bold again, this time with semiconductors,” declared Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union Speech to introduce the European Chips Act. In an increasingly interconnected world, global events such as the pandemic and the ongoing (trade) wars have worsened the EU’s supply chain challenges. The race to secure a sustainable and resilient supply chain is hastening with geopolitical risks of tech dependencies increasing. In the backbone of our supply chains lays an indispensable good, which is the “lifeblood of modern society:” microchips or semiconductors. Described as the ”new oil of our economy,” life without these little chips the size of a large grain of rice is unthinkable. They are essential to power smartphones, computers, cars and even medical devices, fridges, and dishwashers won’t function. 

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What is the impact of Western sanctions against Russia?

By Bryan Bayne (2020-2022, Olomouc and Uppsala).

The West has often been criticized for not doing enough to stand up to Putin’s war in Ukraine. Viral social media posts imply that Ukraine fights alone, while Western powers talk tough but do nothing. That could not be further from the truth. In addition to the considerable military and financial aid that Western countries have provided to Ukraine, they have also imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia. This article aims to analyze the sanctions imposed on Moscow and their likely impact. 

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The Utopic State of the Union concerning European Covid-19 Management 

By Laila M. Lange

In this opinion piece, Laila Lange (Groningen/Bilbao, cohort 2021/2023) scrutinises the 2021 State of the Union speech and argues that Von der Leyen self-aggrandises Europe’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is argued that she, thereby, disconnects her description of the state of the Union from reality and harms European credibility.

The seemingly everlasting Covid-19 pandemic has changed and dominated the life of everybody from March 2020 onwards. Despite the high percentage of vaccinations in European countries and one and a half years of experience with the virus, the situation in winter 2021 shows that Covid-19 is far from being conquered. Uncountable infection waves are followed by stricter Covid-19 measures. Not to mention that the regulations differ per member state and that Covid-19, once more, pinpoints the dominance of national power in the European structure. So to say, Covid is a major contributor to and factor of the current state of the European Union.

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SOSJobs! Alumni4Students: Felicitas Rabiger’s Experience as an International in the Swedish Labour Market

Felicitas comes originally from Nuremberg, Germany, but she has always been a real globetrotter eager to explore her surroundings. When she was 15, she spent a few months in Limerick, Ireland and that set the start to wanting to move abroad and trying out different things. Since then, she has lived in Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and since 2010, Sweden. She joined the Euroculture programme in 2009 starting off in Groningen. After graduating in 2011, she started a career in the education management business in Sweden, but has worked for both Swedish and American employers. Felicitas lives together with Saga (2.5 years), her partner Linus and her dog Mio.

Interview by Carolina Reyes Chávez

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): How long ago did you graduate from Euroculture and what are you working with now?

Felicitas Rabiger

Felicitas Rabiger (FR): I graduated 10 years ago and now I work at Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan. It’s a very Swedish organization. In Scandinavia there’s a long tradition of enabling people – normal people, with no education, to get more knowledge. The concept is called Folkbildning, it comes from the civil society and it’s built on associations. So a lot of people in Sweden, almost everyone is basically part of a group focused on some kind of topic, like football for example, or if I have a sickness, for example cancer, I can go and join the cancer association, or if I’m interested in painting I can go and join my local painting association, you know? That’s how they establish a lot of small associations that are part of the democratic tradition in Sweden. 

So Studieförbundet is basically here for this small associations to give them structure and to help them with administrative processes, also we organize all kinds of activities together with them, we can give them access to free education… It’s like a consultant, but not for business but for organizations in order to help them to get the work better and to get more organized. We also help them to get more members, with branding for example, also they can use our space and get money from us for materials.

My position is called Organizational developer and it’s about having contact with a certain amount of associations and helping them with all kinds of stuff, like finding ways for them to get funding for new projects. We also provide courses to the general public, like languages, painting, astronomics, anything that’s not university education. So it’s a really broad job.

EM: What do you see as your role or contribution as a non-Swede in this very Swedish organization?

FR: Well, actually we are discussing right now that I’ll have more focus on integration in general, because that’s my focus. Not being a Swede, I have been working a lot with people like me that need to get into the Swedish job market, and I’ve been trying to provide educational programs for them, to help them also to get better Swedish for example, to finding funds… So it’s a very creative and outgoing job, I have to talk to people all the time. I’m teaching some courses and I actually held a seminar in Swedish Work Culture for the Uppsala International Hub.

EM: Is this Studieförbundet an organization funded by the State?

FR: Yes, and that’s super interesting, you know? You could say that the Studieförbundet is the Swedish biggest cultural organization. And there are different goals with this Folkbildning concept, that’s actually to secure democracy so that people can meet, discuss and get more ideas and knowledge. The goal is also to integrate people that don’t have a voice into the society, for instance we focus a lot on handicapped people, or I work a lot with women that don’t have a job nor speak Swedish, or that are analphabetic. We want to give them a chance to get into the Swedish job market, so to give these groups a voice.

EM: That’s awesome

FR: Yes! And it’s something very, very Swedish. I don’t know anything like that in any other country. It’s like the education system in the university here which is about this concept of having your own power, seeking knowledge on your own, and that’s not only for the elite but is part of this idea that everybody should have access, even if you are handicapped, or if you come from a very distant country, you still should be able to take part in the society. So being State funded…it’s basically a way to enhance democratic processes, supporting the people and actually helping them to get power.  

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From a Friendly Gesture to a Dependable Platform: Bart Swinkels’ Dutch Covid-19 News

By Bart Swinkels

Starting as a friendly gesture to fellow students, when Bart Swinkels (Dutch, Groningen/Uppsala, cohort 2021/2023) started translating and sharing news about Covid-19 restrictions in the Netherlands, he never imagined the societal need that this initiative appears to fulfil. In this article, Swinkels reflects on the year 2021 and the journey of establishing his platform: Dutch Covid-19 News!

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