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Re-thinking Polish Catholic Approaches to Gender, Sexuality and Reproduction: Local and Transnational Perspectives, Past and Present

Sun, November 15, 8:00 to 9:30am, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 11

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

In the present virulent debates about the alleged threats of “gender/LGTBQ ideologies” and sex education in Poland, the Catholic Church has taken a key role. The longstanding ultra-conservatism of the Polish Catholic hierarchy in the realms of gender and reproduction, both on a local level and transnationally through the papacy of John Paul II, has obscured the diversity of voices and practices linked to Catholicizing sexuality, gender and reproduction within the broader Catholic community in Poland. This panel nuances and historicizes these current debates by examining Polish Catholic engagements with reproduction and gender practices from the second half of the twentieth century to the present. Rather than focusing on the norms produced and interpreted by the hierarchy, contributors to this panel bring historical, anthropological and sociological perspectives to place Catholic activist and intimate practices and negotiations of sexuality, femininity and masculinity at centre stage. Have Catholic intellectuals shaped alternative interpretations of sexual ethics? Have lay Catholics rebelled against the norms regarding ‘artificial’ contraception and abortion? In what ways has the transnationalisation of militant anti-abortion strategies fuelled new forms of local anti-abortion activism, carried out in defiance of the socialist State? How do transnational contexts, such as migration, influence perceptions and practices of gender in religious institutions? Through addressing these questions, this panel contributes to deconstructing the image of Polish Catholic sexual ethics and perceptions of gender as conservative and impervious to change while also placing current conflicts about gender and reproduction in the transnational context.

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