Post-graduate course Feminisms in a Transnational Perspective, May 2017

Love and Terror (Extremis Malis Extrema Remedia)


The eleventh post-graduate course Feminisms in a Transnational Perspective took place in the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from 22th to 26th May 2017. The annual topic was “Love and Terror (Extremis Malis Extrema Remedia)”. Co-directed by scholars from Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Pakistan, the course gathered 28 participants.

The course aimed to provide the space for discussion of both the current situation in political relations, social changes and arts, and the historical examples particularly relevant to the developments of theoretical concepts. This year’s topic was a continuation of the organizers’ concerns for the future of our societies and for searching the solutions based on solidarity, collaboration and critical insights informed by feminist analysis and up-to-date theoretical approaches in humanities and social sciences. The call for participation defined these concerns as follows:

“Faced with the current moral collapse in dealing with migrations prompted by terror, with the supposed ‘importation of terror’ by migrants, with actual terrorist attacks and their various performative modes, as well as with the justification for anti-terrorist measures that thrive on more subtle and less visible forms of terrorizing, we propose a radical response of love. From minimal gestures of solidarity and help via instances of loving encounters resisting fear-inducing interests, to counter-hegemonic discourses, and alternative platforms, love needs to be valued and reconceptualized not only in terms of the forms it can take, but also in terms of the so far unsurpassed challenges it needs to live up to.”

The participants’ contributions provided rich and varied response to the call. Contemporary situation was analyzed trough the figure of terrorist in human imaginary, performance of the state as maternal figure, negotiation of piety and political subjectivity among women in the Iraqi Diaspora, political discourse of terror in the USA, and queer-feminist analysis of arranged marriages and their challenge to liberalism. Among innovative theoretical approaches, particularly compelling were the reading of Antigone using the concepts of the historiographic contamination and nuclear waste, and the reading of Trinh T. Minh-Ha’s book Lovecidal. Art, theatre, literature, film and popular culture offered, as in all previous courses, intriguing materials for elaborating the place of love, affect, violation of bodies, cruelty, utopian and dystopian imagination, in the works of artists Pascal Rambert, Nnedi Okorafor, Sadat Hasan Manto, Sharon Hayes, Claudia Llosa, Caryl Churchill, and others. Finally, the themes of love and terror, hospitality, friendship and war were aptly reviewed in historically oriented presentations, ranging from the medieval and Renaissance period (terror of inquisition, hospitality, philogynist discourse in poetry), to the 20th century themes (Italian prisoners in WWII camps in Africa, Holocaust testimonies, disintegration of Yugoslavia).

Seminar participants were scholars and graduate students from Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, UK and the USA, with personal background in countries such as Canada, India, and Netherlands, and interests in Nigerian literature, Latin American cinematography and Iraqi diaspora, thus justifying the course’s intention to provide transnational perspective. Among 28 participants, fourteen were junior and senior scholars, eleven were graduate students, and three participants were involved in activism, art and public policy. The participants had the opportunity to engage with local community by visiting the exhibition about the history of women’s involvement in the antifascist movement, the local women’s NGO Deša, and by attending a theatrical performance by the Student Theater Lero.

Co-directors of the course were Silvana Carotenuto (University of Napoli), Lada Čale Feldman (University of Zagreb), Francesca Maria Gabrielli (University of Zagreb), Elissa Helms (Central European University, Budapest), Renata Jambrešić Kirin (Institute for Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb), Sandra Prlenda (Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb) and Durre S. Ahmed (Centre for the Study of Gender and Culture, Lahore).