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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Leda Cooks

Second Advisor

Claudio Moreira

Third Advisor

Kirsten Leng

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Communication | Critical and Cultural Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | International and Intercultural Communication | Performance Studies | Slavic Languages and Societies | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation analyzes how women in the postsocialist former Yugoslavia perform gender in the transition from socialism to capitalism by considering their material and symbolic relationships to property. Using performance ethnography to theorize the relational, embodied, and discursive ways in which identity has been mobilized in the former Yugoslavia, the central question is how insights from the postsocialist world can critique notions of the individual as well as global capital. Through the prism of postsocialist and postcolonial feminist theory and performance studies, I focus on three contexts: women’s feminized labor as sustaining the tourism industry in Montenegro, my rape and women witnesses/survivors of rape testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and representations of the nation in the work of Yugoslav performance artist Marina Abramović. Each chapter theorizes how symbolic and material property ownership performatively and relationally manifests on women’s bodies. Private property ownership is more than an economic relation, it is a discourse of power that determines the possibilities of gender, nation, and labor. In the former Yugoslavia, the development of capitalism happens on the backs of dispossessed women and women’s labor. I offer property as performative lynchpin of capitalist and patriarchal oppression to theorize resistance to these systems of power. In postsocialist global capitalism, discourses of property ownership continue to interpellate humans as individuals (men) with the potential to own property and others as property (women, people of color). I argue that this performative property relationship is and foundational to the capitalist nation, enables conditions of violence, and must be resisted through feminist coalition. My dissertation contributes to three lines of thought: 1) it centers the performativity of property as a political site for transnational feminist coalition 2) it offers a theoretical analytic based on a cohabitation of postcolonial and postsocialist feminist theory 3) it builds on standpoint theory to disrupt the notion of the individual and to move toward structural critique and radically relational social justice. By theorizing performative radical relationality, the dissertation offers property as a site of resistance at the borders of identities, nations, genders, and bodies.