'She is Made of Stone'
Women in Socialist and Post-Socialist Public Spaces

Jewgeni Wutschetitsch & Nikolai Nikitin: The Motherland calls, Wolgograd 1967 | Zorka Saglova: Laying Napkins, near Sudomer 1970 | Wiktar Daschuk: The Unwomanly Face of War (Filmstill), 1980–1984 | Italo Orlando Griselli: Inauguration of the monument to Sophia Perovskaya, Saint Petersburg 1918

This workshop opens up an interdisciplinary discussion about representations, memories, and (in)visibility of women within the socialist and post-socialist public spaces, with a focus on Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Today, monumental portrayals of socialist women persist in post-socialist countries: colossal statues of female figure allegories of people’s struggles, sculpture groups portraying the worker–warrior women, or busts of individual female revolutionaries to name the most evident. ‘She is Made of Stone’ echoes these materializations of women’s bodies, visible in the (post)socialist public space. Unlike the ‘eternally lasting’ stone many of these monuments were made of, the discourses around them, their political and social impact, and their state of conservation has changed. They are subject to new readings, reinterpretations, and erasure, as well as acts of historical revisionism and material iconoclasm.

Our workshop proposes to explore these monumentalization processes, and the writing of social, cultural, and material histories of such projects. It will examine and problematize the representation of these ideologized bodies; shedding light on the actors involved, the narratives they led to, as well as the emotions they provoked. The workshop also invites reflections on other forms of memorialization of women, womanhood, and socialist femininity—questioning their national, regional, and local specificities.

Is she then only made of stone? At first glance, these monumental bodies and memorialized celebrated personalities seem to assert the apparent public presence of (idealized) women in the socialist and post-socialist contexts. But how much space was actually given to women? Could it be that such monumentalization underlines the very absence, or at least invisibility of actual women, their lives, and their deeds in the socialist and post-socialist public spaces? Could it be that women have opened up new possibilities of empowerment by the very act of acknowledging, performing, and giving concrete existence to this absence? With these questions in mind, the workshop will also explore the actions of critically (re)appropriating and (re)claiming the public space by and for women.

Overall, with this workshop we will try to tackle the concepts of materiality and feminism, as well as the contested notion of public space.

As the number of participants is limited due to the workshop format, we would kindly ask you to send an email to Philipp Kaspar Heimann ( if you would like to participate. He will then send you the zoom-link, depending on the availability.

Workshop Program

Thursday, September 23, 3:00pm - 7:00pm

3:00–3:15 PM  
Welcome and Introduction
Julie Deschepper, Hana Gründler and Milica Prokić 

Session 1 De/constructing Memories and Narratives

3:15–3:45 PM  
Know Your Place: Burying and Commemorating Female Revolutionaries, 1917-1927
Anastasia Papushina

3:45–4:15 PM  
Is She Made of Stone? Combatant Women in Yugoslav Memory From Idealisations to Iconoclasm
Milica Prokić  


4:30–5:00 PM  
Heroism, Emotions, and Ideology in Svetlana Alexievich's War's Unwomanly Face
Max Rosochinsky


Session 2 Questioning the Given

5:30–6:00 PM  
How Much Space a Woman Needs: Architectural Discourse in Late Socialist Prague
Liana Battasaligova

6:00–6:30 PM  
Women's Materiality in Socialist Yugoslavia: A Case Study of Borovo Vukovar
Ivana Žebec Šilj 

Common Discussion


Friday, September 24, 2:00pm - 7:00pm

Session 3 Monumental Bodies

2:00 - 2:30 PM  
Busts of Stone and Flesh. Women Monuments and Women Bodies in Public Space at Warsaw
Iwona Kurz

2:30 - 3:00 PM  
A Monumental Absence? Women's Material Heritage in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia
Julie Deschepper

3:00 - 3:30 PM 
"You Be My History for Me": The Female Body, Sacrifice, and Collective Labor in Socialist Albanian Monumental Sculpture
Raino Isto


Session 4 Troubling Public Space

3:45 - 4:15 PM  
Re-Claiming Public Spaces: Commemoration of Women in Soviet Russia and Contemporary Activism
Maria Silina

4:15 - 4:45 PM  
Women in Public Space and Serbian City Cultural Policies: Discourses and Instruments
Tatjana Nikolić and Milena Dragićević-Šešić 


Session 5 Appropriating Spaces - Performing History

5:00 - 5:30 PM  
Women Performance Artists in Public Urban Spaces in Socialist Poland
Małgorzata Sobocińska 

5:30 - 6:00 PM  
In/visible Presence: Body, History and Materiality in Czech Art and Philosophy 1968-1989
Hana Gründler 

Common Discussion


23. – 24. September 2021

Online workshop.

As the number of participants is limited due to the workshop format, we would kindly ask you to send an email to Philipp Kaspar Heimann ( if you would like to participate. He will then send you the zoom-link, depending on the availability. 


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