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

Asian or Eurasian Century? The Emergence of a Media Trend or a Multipolar world

 

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Russia is the world’s largest country in landmass and China the largest in population

Daniele Carminati

The Asian Century is a debated concept which posits the idea that the 21st century will be led by the Asian continent from an economic, political, and cultural perspective. Supposedly, the previous 19th and 20th centuries, have been the British (European) and the American centuries respectively. The Asian Development Bank is so confident of such an accomplishment that it published a report in 2011 titled “Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century.”

The plausibility of such development is disputed, especially when considering that the main actor of this transformation, China, appears to be experiencing an economic downturn for the first time in quite a number of years.

The implications are plentiful and, unsurprisingly, global. Yet this article aims to move one step beyond the above discussion. Over the past few weeks, several articles have focused on the possibility of a shift of power in Eurasia, from different angles. The first piece, “Black Wind, White Snow: Imagining Eurasia” by Casey Michel was published on The Diplomat website, which referred to a recently released book reflecting on the Russian concept of “Eurasianism.” The notion was apparently coined, or at least, co-opted by the Kremlin and surrounding bodies as a way to promote and promise a brighter future to the disillusioned post-Cold war generations. The outcome of this attempt at normative construction has been mixed, according to Michel, but an overall aura of pessimism is perceivable across the book, suggesting that the imagined Eurasia may stay in the Kremlin’s mind.

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Military Parade in Russia’s Kremlin

Still, due to its strategic position and regional influence, it is crucial to consider the role of Russia in any potential Eurasian ‘coalition’.

The second and third articles tackle the issue from a more inclusive perspective and, perhaps startlingly, depict two opposite scenarios. The first one is from George Friedman, an expert in intelligence and international geopolitics, who wrote an article for Forbes claiming that the “Last time Eurasian Instability Was This Bad Was Before World War II”, describing several factors to justify such a dire prediction. A few examples are the supposed failure of the European Union, followed by the Russian and Middle Eastern crisis, in addition to the aforementioned slowdown in both China and Japan’s economies. The only exception, according to the author, is India, but that country alone will not be able to stop a ‘grand’ destabilization affecting the whole Eurasian continent.

Such a vision, in my opinion, is rather unconvincing, especially when considering the economic and geopolitical self-interest of the majority of the Eurasian countries. Their goal is, mostly, to pursue peaceful means of gain, being well aware that armed conflicts can bring far more disadvantages than benefits. A notable exception may be North Korea, for obvious reasons.

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Russia is by far the EEU’s biggest player and maybe its biggest benefactor

The last article, which I particularly enjoyed, provides a more optimistic view on the phenomenon. Graham E. Fuller, a former senior CIA official, wrote for The World Post (partner of the renowned Huffington Post) an article entitled “The Era of American Global Dominance Is Over.” Such a bold statement from an American citizen may sound preposterous to some. Yet it is another piece covering the position of Eurasia, seen as an increasingly relevant one in this article. The author recognizes that the term itself may remind the readers of a geographical feature more than a political one, Eurasia as a sole, vast landmass. The author sees it as more than that. The central reason why Fuller thinks that the US is failing to deal with Eurasia is its stubbornness in ignoring the mega-continent “rising force” which is attracting more and more nation-states to its sphere. The article then mentions several economic, military and political reasons that support the author’s well-articulated stance. Nonetheless, the recurring theme is that the current century has seen the demise of Western global dominance and that the US should accept it now in order to take advantage of such power shift, while is still happening.

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Barrack Obama, President of the United States of America meets Putin at the G20 Summit in China

This last article appears to be the most convincing when you look to the latest global developments. A change is indeed happening, and although it does not mean that the US is not going to occupy a predominant position, their position is certain to be less hegemonic.

The above articles may not follow a common pattern and they likely originated from different pitches. Still, they have all been published in the past few days which may be a peculiar coincidence or a hint of an upcoming geopolitical trend. Regardless of that, it is unquestionable that the current European situation may benefit from additional transcontinental collaborations and a more balanced, multipolar power redistribution may benefit all the global players in the long run.

Click here for more by Daniele Carminati.

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