CONICET researcher specialized in gender spoke at the Library of Congress in Washington

Eugenia Tarzibachi studies genealogy of menstrual body in the United States and Argentina between 1920 and 1980.

Eugenia Tarzibachi, CONICET scientist who holds a PhD in Social Sciences, presented her doctoral thesis called “Menstrual Bodies, Gender and the Transnational Femcare Industry in the United States and Argentina (1920-1980)” at the Library of Congress in Washington, the second largest library in the world.

The researcher was invited to present her study because during her doctoral theses between 2009 and 2014 she travelled to the USA and carried out several bibliographical explorations in the library. “The presentation was very well received by the audience, who offered me to collaborate with my future research, the scientist comments.”

On September 1st, Tarzibachi informally presented her doctoral thesis before the researchers of the Hispanic and Social Sciences and the Humanities Divisions; and on September 29th, the formal presentation was made at the Pickford Theater in the James Madison Building. This library is comprised of three huge buildings that contain all kinds of historical and current sources and holds events for the local community, among other activities. The presentation was part of ‘The National Hispanic Heritage Month’ celebration.

“The production of feminist and gender studies in Argentina is increasing with new high-academic level research. I was able to improve my study thanks to the previous historical and contextual research on gender studies conducted by Argentine colleagues and the constant and thorough guidance of my directors. I am happy for all the new research into gender and menstrual body undertaken in Argentina, which leads to interesting questions.”

About her thesis

The interest on feminist subjects aroused with the relationship with her mother and sister. “Thanks to my mother, who lacked academic education, and my sister, who became a sociologist, I had the chance to develop the sensibility on the matters referred to gender inequality.” Another key and “intellectually fascinating” instance fundamental for her subsequent theses was the opportunity to attend the subjects she wanted at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid as part of her course of studies on Psychology. That was part of an academic exchange scholarship given by the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). At the Spanish university I decided to attend Pensamiento Feminista [Feminist Thought] with Professor Cristina Sánchez Muñoz, a person whose teachings I will always appreciate. Apart from her classes, reading material and discussions, she asked to me participate in seminars on feminism with Celia Amorós. In 2002, after studying systematically the genealogy and complexity of feminist thought for the first time, I came back with a different mind.”

Through a scholarship given by the UBA, she began to study gender discourse in kindergarten. She analyzed the organization of the beginner level, the gender stereotypes that were reproduced through the teachers and how the children gradually segregated themselves according to sex in their games and the selection of toys. In 2009, she became a CONICET fellow to do her PhD on gender studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the UBA under the supervision of Mónica Szurmuk and Dora Barrancos. In her doctoral research she focused on sociocultural aspects related to menstruation and menstrual body because “apart from the fact that the topic has been fascinating due to several reasons related to the construction of the body of women in terms of gender, I realized that there were no local studies on the subject”, the scientist stated.

Manufactured and disposable feminine hygiene products produced by the “Feminine Hygiene and Personal Care” were one point of view to understand how its transnational dissemination and consumption in both countries –USA and Argentina- helped to produce a new disciplinary practice directed to the body of women that “normalized menstruation and reproduced traditional stories on gender in different areas. In the long term, that practice that was consolidated gradually over the twentieth century has not only hidden the menstrual body in an effective way but also provided a new way of thinking, speaking and dealing with menstruation. More broadly, that process pivoted around regulatory standards of the body non-menstrual, masculine ideal, and helped to hide the stigma attached to menstruation”, the researcher explained.