E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history

Was it a Man’s world? Intersections of gender and global history

Event Details

  • Date

    Saturday, 27 June - 8:30–10:30

    Saturday, 27 June - 11:00 – 13:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history
Convenor
  • Angelika Epple (Bielefeld University)
  • Christof Dejung (University of Bern)
Chair
  • Christof Dejung (University of Bern)
Panelists
  • Antje Flüchter (Bielefeld University)
  • Giulia Calvi (University of Siena)
  • Felix Brahm (German Historical Institute)
  • Katharina Storning (Justus Liebig University Giessen)
  • Angelika Epple (Bielefeld University)

Papers

  • Antje Flüchter
    The forgotten (world) history of mighty female rulers of the East

    The forgotten (world) history of mighty female rulers of the East

    World history and even more the traditional history of the so-called European expansion was a history of male heroes who conquered and explored. Their antagonists were non-European rulers, male as well. Women were not part of this story, or were confined to particular spaces such as the orientalist phantasy of the harem. Such accounts obviously confirmed modern European gender roles. What is often forgotten or overlooked, though, is the fact that the early modern discourse about Asia worked differently. Mighty women, queens, but also the wives, mothers and sisters of kings and princes were frequently mentioned in European travel reports from India (e.g. those of Bernier, Tavernier, della Valle). The sisters of the Mughal prince and later Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Jahangirs wife or the queen of Olala played an important role in political life and administration; sometimes they were even relevant for the outcome of wars. Such female agency fitted into the premodern dynastic system. This paper explores how the mighty women of the East were written out of (global) history at the beginning of modern times with its polarized gender roles.
  • Giulia Calvi
    Embodied spaces. Gender, dress and the circulation of knowledge between Italy, Europe and Japan (sixteenth to nineteenth centuries)

    Embodied spaces. Gender, dress and the circulation of knowledge between Italy, Europe and Japan (sixteenth to nineteenth centuries)

    The paper focuses on the representation of world people in costume books, atlases and screens circulating between Europe and Japan from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. It traces a transcontinental connection between the Venetian artist Cesare Vecellio’s Habiti antichi e moderni di tutto il mondo (1598) and the visual and textual production on world people in Japan amidst the flourishing of Namban Art during the Edo period. I will discuss three costume books: Vecellio's Habiti (Venice 1598); Nishikawa Joken's Mankoku jinbutsushu (The people of the 42 countries) (Tokyo 1720), and Yamamura Saisuke’s Teisei shijūnikoku jinbutsu zusetsu (The people of the 42 countries) (Tokyo, 1801). These costume books as well as maps, atlases and screens, represent the people of the world as heterosexual couples or small nuclear families. The representation of a western notion of gender relations embodies, as it were, a new consciousness of proto-globalization both in Europe and Japan as well as asymmetric power relations in the geopolitical arena and a transcontinental circulation of knowledge.
  • Felix Brahm
    Writing gender into global commodity chains (in the 1820s)

    Writing gender into global commodity chains (in the 1820s)

    The Global Commodity Chains approach has become an important research tool for analyzing contemporary production and trade networks, and to an increasing degree it has also been used in global history. A systematic inclusion of gender, however, is still missing from many respective studies. One reason for this omission might lie in the historically close connection with radical campaigning. Linking global trade relations with the category of gender, though, was an important step in evoking a global economic conscience in the first place and for raising awareness for the responsibility of the consumer. The paper studies early attempts of using gender discourses for establishing a critical inquiry of the sugar trade in the context of the antislavery movement of the 1820s. Drawing on the pamphlets of radical campaigner Elizabeth Heyrick in particular, the paper discusses the ways in which female activists made use of the category of gender in order to enhance awareness of injustice and exploitation along the transnational chain of sugar production and consumption. It will be argued that by bringing gender into the picture – for instance, by focusing on the male planter and the male lobbyist, the female enslaved worker and the female consumer – activists like Heyrick made for a new understanding of both distant and close power relations along the commodity chain. This strategy allowed for establishing transnational female solidarity and a potentially powerful position of women: that of the female buyer who made purchasing decisions on the household level. This insight was implemented into the sugar boycotts, the first broad consumer actions which were based on an understanding of global commodity chains.
  • Katharina Storning
    The gendered logics of transnational aid: Women, men and the drive to save distant others in need

    The gendered logics of transnational aid: Women, men and the drive to save distant others in need

    Recently, the histories of transnational aid and humanitarian engagement have attracted great attention among historians. Yet, while the contributions of women to humanitarian initiatives have been gradually recognized and added to existing historiographies, little has been said about the workings of gender in the transformation of local initiatives into transnational or even global undertakings. This paper studies the activities of Christian aid associations in nineteenth-century Germany and explores the gendered structures, practices and narratives that facilitated, mobilized, channeled and shaped aid across geographic, national, cultural and religious borders. Applying an intersectional perspective, the paper explores how “the world” gradually became a sphere of philanthropic activity for women and men in nineteenth-century Germany and asks how mobilizing narratives portrayed aid givers as gendered actors and related them to imagined beneficiaries in far-off settings. By doing so, the paper firstly traces the gendered and racialized logics of this type of transnational aid and secondly discusses why and how its recognition matters to contemporary scholarship and global histories.
  • Angelika Epple
    Designing the future, comparing the past: Globally entangled discussions on race and gender around 1900

    Designing the future, comparing the past: Globally entangled discussions on race and gender around 1900

    Around 1900, the social order was questioned in many respects, both globally and locally. One fundamental shift concerned the fact that Spain lost its last important colonies. Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines came under US-American influence. As a consequence, the USA could establish itself as a new empire and the European great powers realized that the European concert was about to dissolve. In this situation of global change, male intellectuals such as the Cuban José Martí, the Filipino José Rizal, the Afro-American W.E.B. Du Bois, to name but a few, developed plans for the future of both their respective societies and the world order. They established their plans for the future on the basis of comparative diagnoses of past and present deficits and achievements. These diagnoses were negotiated within globally entangled discussion in which race and gender comparisons played a major role. The paper examines how Martí, Rizal, and Du Bois dealt with the categories of gender and race within their attempts to rearrange world orders and the future of the societies they lived in.

Abstract

Abstract: In the last decade and a half, a global historical perspective has altered the field of historical research profoundly. A brief look at recent publications in global history shows, however, that women in general, and men as men in particular, are barely mentioned. Gender is not an issue in these publications. Of course, most, even older, studies or synopses in global history do have a chapter on women or on families and households. Christopher Bayly, for instance, deals in a short chapter of three pages with “gender and the subordination in the ‘liberal age’”. Basically, it examines women and their growing restrictions in nineteenth century (Bayly 2004). Meanwhile in other parts of the book, the gender model of European middle classes with its specific nineteenth gender segregation becomes an allegedly self-evident blueprint for the description of gender relations in cultures and societies across the world. Marnie Hughes-Warrington’s (2011) intervention that the program of gender history should not be about adding a chapter in world history books but about gendering world or global history is still an unsettled issue. This demand has often been made and repeated during the last two decades (Blom 2001; Smith 2009; Epple 2012). The response, so far, has been modest. The exclusion of women and the category of gender in historical scholarship is, of course, nothing new. After the 1970s, an entire generation of women’s and gender historians have convincingly argued that gender relations were an integral part of social, economic and political processes. Why is it that with the global turn in history gender issues – again! – have been disavowed? This is all the more astonishing as gender studies were always on the agenda and have also been further developed in discussions such as feminist postcolonial studies (Lewis & Mill 2003) or global microhistory (Davis 2009; Trivellato 2011). As a result, multilayered societal hierarchies and mechanisms of in- and exclusion were analyzed within an intersectional framework (Kerner 2016). Is there a gendered labor division also in historiography? Is global history (as well as big history) a genre that not only deals mainly with a man’s world but is also written mainly by male historians? One of the rare exceptions that explores the role of gender in world history in a systematic, although sketchy, manner is Peter Stearns’ textbook published in 2000. In this book, the author argues for an increasing polarization of gender characteristics after the eighteenth century; a polarization that can be observed throughout the world according to Stearns. Only after the late nineteenth century, this hegemonic gender order had arguably been altered by the emergence of a women’s movement around the world. This double-panel aims for testing this claim by adopting a longue durée-perspective, involving papers exploring the role of gender in cultural diagnoses, economic relations and political discourses from the early modern period up to the twentieth century. It will explore how gender history and intersectionality can be integrated into the writing of world history. By doing so, it aims for redefining the field of global history in a similar way as has been done for national history before; in fact, numerous initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s attested that the history of nations are incomplete without considering the role of women and gender relations (see f.i. Blom, Hall & Hagemann 2000; Epple & Schaser 2009). The panel thus aims for establishing that gender is, indeed, not only a “useful category” (Scott 1986) but a necessary component of global historical analysis.