• Job Placement: Researcher at the Academy of Philosophy and Social Science, Warsaw, Poland
  • Committee: J. Regulska, T. Kaplan, M. Hawkesworth, A. Snitow
  • Dissertation: Polish Feminism Between East and West: The Formation of the Polish Women's Movement Identity


Magda Grabowska completed her Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers in April 2009. Utilizing interdisciplinary methods of feminist story telling, discourse analysis, and participant observation, Magda’s work contributed to ongoing debates on transnational feminism, cultural politics, sexual strangeness and the politics of location, and addressed the question of how Eastern European feminism fits into ongoing formulation and reformulation of global gender theory. Madga Grabowska joined the Women's and Gender Studies faculty at The College of New Jersey before accepting a 2 year Marie Curie Postdoc at the University of Warsaw, Poland, funded by the EU. Magda is now Research Professor at the Polish Academy of Philosophy and Social Science.


By focusing on the unique forces that shape women’s movements in the post-communist context, this dissertation asks if the established geopolitical and theoretical frameworks, based on dichotomies between East and West, South and North can be utilized outside these locations. Or is a new framework necessary to fully understand the specific processes that are at work in the ambiguous “Second” World location? Chapter One, traces the individual and collective trajectories of Polish women’s movement to the 19th century anti-partition mobilizations, the Second World War, the 1968 students’ liberation movement, the “Solidarity” labor union, and the 1990s Polish debate on abortion. Chapter Two identifies two elements as crucial for the unique development of transnational activism in the context of CEE: 1) its trajectory (“late” arrival into the international feminist space) and 2) the domination and critique of the EU “gender mainstreaming” paradigm within gender social justice discourses. Chapter Three recognizes the 1990s “abortion debate” became in impulse for the feminisms to move beyond the borders of the conservative nation state and bring the question of women’s sexual rights into the supranational political spaces and became a momentum for the emergence of versatile, vibrant mobilizations for gender and sexual justice in Poland and (e.g. European Court of Justice decision in the case of Alicja Tysiac against the Polish state). Chapter Four argues that secularism that had become, a necessary feminist response to violent and oppressive discourses that act to restrict women’s sexualities and rights, has also hindered feminist connectivity with religious women. In Poland a purification of the sexuality, emergence of the “political Catholicism” and “secular feminism” produced the subaltern, traveling identities of Catholic feminists. Chapter Five examines re-appropriation of the Anti-Semitic language of civic strangeness, historically represented by Polish Jews to the experience of sexual minorities. In conclusion this dissertation delineates two factors as decisive for current positionality of the “Second” world in the transnational feminist theory and practice: the rejection of Marxism as representing the colonial practices from the East (Russia, Soviet Union), the priotization of the supranational engagements with the European Union and Western Europe rather then Third World.