Gender difference in the Balkans
This dissertation deals with the issue of gender difference in the Balkans. In order to evade the many assumptions and presumptions that posit gender difference in the Balkan region as being necessarily subsumed to established orders and regimes of representation, this dissertation focuses on an array of visual materials. This singular material consists of nineteenth and twentieth century photographs, and a series of contemporary art works (objects, installations, videos, etc.) This material draws attention to overlooked images of women (some of them taken by women) that resist the logic and rhetoric of the patriarchal order and emphasises the ambiguous rhetoric of gender difference within the field of representation in visual culture. The aim of this dissertation and of this collated visual material is to challenge and deconstruct the problematic understanding of institutional archives as places dedicated to guarding and preserving the truth of written documents and visual imagery. Instead of focusing on the archive as the repository of truth (e. g. about national identity), I attempt to "perform" an archive of the act of becoming a different gender as a result of a way of acquiring knowledge and making art that is specific to the Balkans. The main argument is that gender difference is the product of a discourse that is not necessarily constituted out of a negative differentiation of the subject. This act of becoming one's gender through difference can stem from other patterns and relationships towards the state and the dominant regimes of representation that infiltrate art and visual culture. The relationship between a conventional understanding of gender difference and a discourse stemming from the acquisition of gender difference is what I call the "becoming of gender difference" The overarching concept put forward to support this argument is the neither. This concept, explored throughout this dissertation, enables the deconstruction of pre-existing discursive figures of alterity already used in non-western cultures and an up dated discussion of the specificities of gender difference in the Balkans.