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

Winning ALBA Thesis Prize : ”Try to use Chekhov’s Gun”

Lora Markova (2012 ALBA Thesis Prize Winner)

The Euroculturer interviews Lora Markova, the winner of the 2012 ALBA (Annual Liesbeth Brouwer Award) Thesis Prize. We all saw her being awarded with the prize during the Gala dinner at the Intensive Programme in Bilbao this summer. We know that the award is a great asset for one’s academic future, not to mention a reward for all the tears shed while struggling with the Master’s thesis.

11 questions to answer…

Q1. Hello, Lora. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

–       Hello, The Euroculturer! I come from Bulgaria and I completed MA Euroculture with an Erasmus Mundus Grant at Deusto University, Bilbao as my home university and Georg-August University, Göttingen as my host university between October 2010 and March 2012. During my third semester I conducted a research track at Pune University, India – a great opportunity for intercultural interaction, and theoretical and empirical studies. My research interests focus on (new) media arts, interactivity, modes of contemporary spectatorship and transmedia, transculturality and cross-cultural exchange of aesthetic codes and cultural repertoires.

Q2. What did you study for your Bachelor’s degree and where? Did your previous studies help you when you were writing your Master’s thesis? If so, in what way?

–       I graduated with a BA in Animation Cinema and Visual Arts from the New Bulgarian University, Sofia with a Socrates/Erasmus exchange in Semiotics at the University of Torino, Italy. After this rather practical training in creative arts I shifted towards art theory and graduated with a MA in Media Culture and a MA in Arts Management from Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Within my studies I carried out internships at the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN), also in Amsterdam, and a Blue-Book traineeship at the European Commission, Brussels. Living in different European cities and shifting cultural contexts triggered my interest to explore Europe as a cultural project. Thus, Euroculture was a unique opportunity to revisit my knowledge of arts and media in a European context and to enrich my research scope with intercultural communication perspectives. In this sense, my previous experience was helpful in writing my thesis, but gaining novel theoretical and methodological knowledge and ‘Eurocompetences’ was also central for my research.

Q3. What is the ‘Euroculture approach’ that the jury of ALBA thesis prize emphasise when grading a Master’s thesis? (It is written on the ALBA thesis prize webpage of the Euroculture website that a ‘Euroculture approach’ is important in order to be awarded the prize.) Could you give us one or two examples, in your opinion?

–       I guess that the approach of a truly interdisciplinary programme as Euroculture involves conducting interdisciplinary research that reflects current European socio-political and cultural dynamics and deals with Europe as an entity always in an on-going process.

Q4. What does “approaching the related problems in an interdisciplinary manner” mean (as also seen on the webpage)? They said it’s important in order to be awarded the prize. What is an example of ‘interdisciplinary manner’? How do you think it applied in your thesis?

–       I understand the interdisciplinary manner as approaching your research problem from multiple (theoretical) perspectives, overcoming disciplinary boundaries and establishing a ‘third space’ between academic fields. Within my thesis I explored transculturality (as a philosophical paradigm and a cultural praxis) in between cultural studies, film and media studies, art history, reception studies, sociology, human geography, post-colonial perspectives and psychology. What I find helpful in this direction is to study carefully the various texts and theories suggested by the Euroculture lecturers and to conduct in-depth research on your chosen topic.

Q5.  Who sits on the jury of the prize?

–       Academic staff from each of the European universities in the consortium, I believe.

Q6. Could you please tell us about your experience working with your two supervisors? Were they helpful? Professors are usually extremely busy, but how did you managed to get useful advices from them? Do you have any tips on this?

–       Of course, it was very helpful receiving feedback from Dr. Asier Altuna and Dr. Lars Klein, as their remarks could indicate to what extent I had expressed and managed my research objectives and outcomes. Indeed, tutors are very busy, and thus it is necessary to be enthusiastic about your own research project, revise your text periodically and question your supervisors and yourself as to whether deeper insights can be achieved.

Q7. When you were writing your thesis, how did you deal with ups and downs in your mood?

–       For me writing my thesis was quite an immersive experience and I devoted my time exclusively to it. In order to cope with procrastination I tried to exclude other activities. Still, after finishing each chapter I would take a day off for travelling and meeting friends so that I could create some space between the text and myself before proceeding further. What helped me in terms of time management was to think of writing my thesis as just writing three or four very good IP papers!

Q8. When did you know that you were going to be awarded the ALBA prize?

–       Shortly before the award ceremony (during the Gala dinner of the IP), or three months after submitting my thesis.

Q9. Do students for whom English is not their native language have to get their Master’s thesis copy edited (or, at least, proof read) before they submit it? Did you?

–       That sounds like a good idea! While writing, I shared and discussed the paper only with my supervisors, appointing specific time to edit each chapter before submitting it in order to minimize possible mistakes. Still, I guess it might be effective to use external help when dealing with such a volume of text.

Q10. What are the three most important things to keep in mind when writing a good thesis, do you think?

–       First, it is necessary to choose a topic that you care deeply about. Thus, spending several months on your thesis can be satisfying and interesting for you. It is also helpful to start the research process early and to communicate your ideas to a broader audience (e.g. already during the Intensive Programme, conferences and workshops). For example, I presented one of my case studies at a Human(i)ties Perspectives conference in Hamburg University in 2011, which was an opportunity to gain impressions on the peer reception of my research. Moreover, writing on issues that you are passionate about will allow you to use and expand your thesis after graduation. Last month I participated in the Young Cultural Policy Researchers Forum within the ENCATC Annual Conference, Networked Culture, at Goldsmiths College in London which is another platform for knowledge exchange. I mention these events as potentially valuable opportunities for a greater range of Euroculture students.

Next, I would say try to use “Chekhov’s Gun”. As you probably know, the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov formulated the dramatic axiom claiming that if there is a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, the gun should be fired in a later act; otherwise it should not be displayed at all. In this sense, everything you mention in your thesis should be for a reason. Thus, it is helpful to delineate your scope by excluding certain topics and to keep some research questions for further studies.

Finally, it is important to be familiar with the ALBA criteria, as they signify academic excellence, and to consider which topic can be innovative in the context of the existing Euroculture titles. At the same time, I think one should not worry about any award while writing as it is beyond the knowledge of the students whose paper will be nominated. For instance, with regards to the high quality and diversity of approaches, I was able to imagine that at least five of my friends and former classmates could have qualified for the prize as well. Thus, I find it as relevant to establish your own standard – let’s say, write in a manner you would like to be published. Then, try to turn the whole process of working on your thesis into an intellectually rewarding experience and hopefully it will be ‘awarding’ as well.

Q11. What is your plan for the future?

–       As a member of the Union of Bulgarian Artists I have been involved in several art and cultural projects in the last few months, and so my intention is to continue in this direction. I will keep you updated, and thank you, The Euroculturer, for inviting me to share my experiences as a Euroculturer.

Thank you very much for your answers, Lora. We wish you the best with everything you do!