Libora Oates-Indruchova

Libora Oates-Indruchova

Professor of Sociology of Gender, University of Graz

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?

In the very early 1990s I was studying toward an MA degree in the English Department of Lancaster University in the UK. I took a course in feminist literary theory—not out of friendly interest, but to develop arguments why feminism was passé in my home country, “emancipated” Czechoslovakia. The predictable happened: I found that the texts of English (and American) feminist thinkers of the 1970s and 1980s theorized with remarkable accuracy gender relations of the Czech society I grew up in. I found the different underlying historical contexts intriguing and there was no going back after that: the adventure promised by studying gender discourses and relations in the rapid social change of post-1989 Czech Republic was irresistible. The research on censorship became a logical extension of my interest in gender—as it had been the case for many feminist researchers.

What support have you received throughout your career (from ASEEES / other societies / federal support / etc.) that has allowed you to advance your scholarship?

Having worked at Czech universities for the first fifteen years of my career, I had to be applying constantly for this or that grant, because I would not have had access to literature or conference travel without external support. The list of funders would be longer than the space available here, but at least the main ones: European Commission, Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study, Central European University Foundation, Andrew Melon Foundation, Czech Science Foundation, Open Society Fund, and Lancaster University. In my recent—“tenured”— years, I have been able to take short research breaks thanks to the Aleksanteri Institute in Helsinki and COST Association (European Cooperation in Science and Technology). I also received project funding from the Austrian Development Corporation and Internet Privatstiftung Austria.

What is your current research/work project?

The first priority is to turn the book on state-socialist academic censorship into Czech. Nevertheless, like for many others, the corona crisis diverted my research attention elsewhere. A couple of weeks into the lockdown, I became interested in what happened to how people in families with schoolchildren spend their time and if the gendered division of paid and unpaid work has shifted in any way. I connected with 12 researchers around Europe—all of them with Central East European background, by the way—and we conducted the first phase of the research during the lockdown. We will continue with a follow-up in September. Doing intense research and teamwork in the stalled general social atmosphere was a rather special, enormously emotionally nourishing experience.

What does your ASEEES membership mean to you? How has your involvement with ASEEES helped to further your career?

I was very touched by the solidarity of ASEEES members and the flexibility of the ASEEES Convention organizers in 2018 when I, finally, managed to get the funds to travel to the Annual Convention, only to be stopped at the airport and not allowed to board the plane despite having all the necessary clearances. Several colleagues mobilized on the ground, arranged for my paper to be read and for ASEEES to provide a virtual connection, so that I could be present for the discussion. The room was full for our panel. I must say that I still appreciate the irony that the US authorities would not let a researcher of communist censorship travel to the US to present her research.

What do you believe is the most important impact ASEEES has on the field?

The systematic and consistent mobilization of interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies—something that sounds basic, but it should not be taken for granted.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

Theatre (thank you, various UK venues for the many amazing video-streamed productions at the time of corona), walks in the Alpine foothills where I live, experimenting with growing vegetables (I more often fail than not), cooking Asian cuisine and, when time permits, upcycling old furniture.