November 8-9, 2019

International Workshop The Second Sex – Seventy Jears Later

International Workshop The Second Sex – Seventy Jears Later

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex is no ordinary book. Indeed, it is a text that marked the beginning of an epoch. Written in 1949, virtually in between the ‘waves’, the book is neither the culmination of the first nor the direct beginning of the second wave. Somewhere at the crossroads of the personal and the political and branching as a literary and philosophical text, revealing De Beauvoir’s enormous erudition, this work sought to offer the answer to a peculiar question: what is a woman? In the spirit of centuries-old querelles des femmes and humanist narratives about the values of man, and in the wake of the suffragists’ victories in decades preceding its publication, De Beauvoir demands we return to the original question in order to formulate the rights and duties of new citizens (French women won the right to vote in 1944, Yugoslav women in 1945). That primary question is an ontological one, what a woman is, and the answers to it come from biology, psychology, sociology, literature, history, pedagogy, and various considerations about labour, marriage, pregnancy, motherhood, etc. There is no program in gender or women’s studies that which does not consider this fundamentally philosophical re-evaluation of thoughts about women, the Other, and the relationship of the Other to the absolute.

The Second Sex has been translated into more than forty languages, Vatican placed it on its Index librorum prohibitorim, and its ideas gained their full momentum with the formation of the second wave in USA in the works of Betty Friedan, Kate Millet and Germaine Greer. The Serbo-Croatian translation appeared in 1982 (translated by Zorica Milosavljević and Mirjana Vukmirović), intriguing Yugoslav theorists from the very beginning, especially the Francophone ones such as Žarana Papić and Rada Iveković. The Second Sex left a deep mark on understanding of the place of woman in general, and woman in philosophy in particular, for the entire generations of students of women’s and gender gender in Belgrade and Novi Sad. Yet, thus far, little has been written about Simon de Beauvoir’s, which applies equally to The Second Sex. Our intention is to rectify this, in an effort to situate the book in its own time, to look at it from different disciplinary and topical perspectives, to try to, seventy years later, rethink the question which Simone de Beauvoir left to us: “How can a human being be realized in female conditions?”

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