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By Katie Neitz

Parental activism is on the rise in Central-Eastern Europe and Russia, where it often sparks political and societal debate. Despite the rising influence of such movements, there has been little scholarly research dedicated to them.

Professor of Government and Law Katalin Fábián wanted to resolve that with her latest book, Rebellious Parents: Parental Movements in Central-Eastern Europe and Russia (Indiana University Press, June 2017), which she co-edited with her research collaborator, Elżbieta Korolczuk.

The book, which reflects four years of work, is a collection of 12 essays written by various international scholars who analyze the formal coalitions and informal networks parents establish to advocate for change.

Specific efforts discussed in the book include conservative parental networks in Ukraine and Russia, parents’ mobilization around reproductive technologies in Bulgaria, anti-vaccination and home-birth movements in the Czech Republic, and fathers’ activism in Poland.

“The chapters in this book show that earlier scholars may have underestimated the dynamic nature of civil society in the region,” says Fábián, who studies the intersection of gender and globalization as they influence policy processes of emerging democracies. “Parental activists employ a set of flexible and adaptable ambiguities in their relationship to the state, to what they interpret as the West, and to gender equality. We interpret this flexible ambiguity as a highly adaptable approach to engage in political activism while simultaneously challenging what politics and civic engagement mean in the post-communist context.”

Fábián wrote one chapter as well as the introduction and conclusion, but her fingerprints are on each essay. She provided ongoing guidance and translation assistance to each author.

All the contributing writers took an interdisciplinary approach to their analyses, using the methodologies and theories of sociology, anthropology, political science, and gender studies.

Fábián, who is a native of Hungary, is on sabbatical from Lafayette this school year to work on an article about anti-gender movements and a paper on nationalism, gender, and sport mega-events, which she presented at the annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies in Chicago in November. She is also writing a book on midwifery in Central Europe.

Her co-editor, Elżbieta Korolczuk, is a Polish activist and researcher in the School of Culture and Education at Södertörn University in Sweden.

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