The Feminism of Alexandrina Cantacuzino and the Little Entente of Women: A Historical Puzzle

Lecture | January 30 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 270 Stephens Hall

 Maria Bucur, John W. Hill Professor of East European History, Professor of Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)

Between 1923 and 1930, feminists in Eastern Europe sought to build a regional network of women activists through the Little Entente of Women (LEW). Initially presided over by the Romanian conservative nationalist Alexandrina Cantacuzino, the group encompassed socialists, peasantists, liberals, and many stripes of nationalism. This paper examines Cantacuzino’s motivations and choices as leader, as well as the development of ideas and programs that unfolded through a vigorous process of discussion, debate, and collaboration among the participants in the LEW. Up to now, this group has been generally ignored by historians of politics and international relations during this period. Yet their activities and impact they had both internally in each country and internationally suggest that the LEW needs to be fully considered alongside other major initiatives in Europe after WWI as an innovative and productive network for articulating different visions of citizenship and government policy, with all people under consideration.