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114 DESPOT, Blaženka (1930–2001) Croatian philosopher, feminist theorist and lecturer at the University of Zagreb; the first person from Yugoslavia to write and publish books, essays and critical studies in the field of philosophical anthropology on the position of women, feminism and the New Age. Blaženka Despot (nee Lovrić) was born on 9 January 1930 in Zagreb (then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, today Croatia), to a typical middle-class Zagreb family—the eldest child of Dr Stjepan and Melanija Lovrić. Her father held a Ph.D. in law and for many years was the director of a hospital in Zagreb. Her mother was a piano teacher. Together with her younger brother Zlatko, the young Blaženka was brought up and educated in a family that had enjoyed middle-class status over several generations. Upon graduation from high school in 1948, she married a doctor, Pavle Gugić, and soon gave birth to a daughter, Iris. After five years, the marriage broke up and she went to work as an office clerk while studying ‘pure’ philosophy at the University of Zagreb. She graduated in 1954. Thus the life of Blaženka Lovrić began as a single mother, accompanied by a tragedy —her daughter’s lifelong illness—which she had to endure alone and for which she sacrificed a great deal. Upon her graduation from the University of Zagreb, she began teaching at Zagreb gymnasiums, which she did for almost ten years. She taught philosophy , sociology, psychology and logic, establishing a reputation for herself as one of the most highly regarded high school teachers of philosophy in Zagreb. A second marriage, to a colleague Ivo Mimica, was also short-lived. In 1964, Blaženka Lovrić-Mimica began working as a lecturer at the University of Zagreb, where she also conducted research. She taught sociology and other mandatory social sciences. The mid-1960s was a productive period for her: she published extensively in almost all Zagreb’s major social science journals, especially in Praxis, but belonged to no particular circle and remained an independent thinker, strongly criticizing dogmatic and patriarchal approaches to theory. It was during this period of her life that she married again—this time to a philosophy professor, Dr. Branko Despot —but the marriage ended after approximately five years. From 1968, she conducted all her work and published all her writings under the name of Despot. 115 In 1968, Blaženka Despot acquired a postgraduate degree in the philosophy of anthropology from the University of Ljubljana. It was here, in 1970, that she defended her doctoral thesis, entitled Humanitet tehničkog društva (The humanity of a technical society). She published a book with the same title in 1971, in which she used Marxian and Hegelian philosophy to explore the threat to humanity and freedom posed by technical society. The first philosopher in Yugoslavia to examine these issues with regard to women’s freedom and subjectivity, Blaženka Despot radicalized basic Marxist tenets and the discipline of philosophy. In her second book, Plädoyer za dokolicu (A plea for leisure, 1976), Despot drew still more radical approaches from Marxist theory, positing perceptions of culture and leisure time as important historical manifestations of human existence. She addressed the negative implications of dogmatism and the political imposition of ideas in contemporary debates, journals and a variety of social and political forums. Despot won an Alexander von Humboldt scholarship to study in Frankfurt am Main at the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research) in 1971–72. Two years later, she became an associate professor at the Veterinarski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb), receiving tenure in 1980 and teaching sociology, political economy, introductions to Marxist philosophy and the social sciences, as well as the theory and practice of self-management. In 1977, she founded the Zavod za društvene znanosti u veterinarstvu (Institute of Social Sciences in Veterinary Medicine), which she headed until she left the University in 1989 to join the Institut za društvena istraživanja Sveučilišta u Zagrebu (Institute for Social Research, University of Zagreb). She won the Humboldt scholarship twice more, this time to study at the Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften (Faculty for Social Sciences) in Konstanz, and later at the Lehrschul für Philosophie (School of Philosophy ) in Bamberg. At the latter institution, she carried out a research project entitled Der Begriff der Emanzipation in der neuen sozialen Bewegung und in Technologie (The concept...


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