Scholars have been exploring the history of women, gender and empire for more than three decades. Starting off by questioning the notion of colonialism as an exclusively male endeavor, they did not just add the stories of white and colonized women to the historiography on empire. They explored the effects of colonization on indigenous and migrant women and stressed the centrality of western women to the imperial project, but went on to expose colonialism itself as a fundamentally gendered project. Despite the large body of literature that has been produced over years the history of gender and empire is far from told. On the contrary, the amount of scholarship has only served to reveal the complexity of colonial gender practices, relations and ideologies.
The history of gender and empire lies at the center of two overlapping research fields: gender history and colonial history. Both fields are characterized by highly dynamic theoretical and methodological debates. Over the years women of color and from working class backgrounds have continuously and successfully challenged other gender historians to include class and race analyses in their studies. In recent years the field has been markedly influenced by ideas from queer studies. Gender is now recognized as one among several socially constructed categories that can and do produce hierarchies. The same time colonial historians have incorporated concepts from postcolonial theory such as “hybridity”(H. Bhabha) into their analytical frameworks. In order to bridge the gap between colony and metropolis they also turned to approaches of comparative, entangled, shared or global history. As a result both gender and colonial historians questioned older master narratives, decentralized their own vantage points and expanded their research fields. They moved beyond a “methodological nationalism” focusing instead on local specificities as well as tranfers and global interconnections. They also stress the importance of subaltern perspectives and question dichotomies such as male/female or colonizer/colonized.
Drawing on those methodological and theoretical developments the conference will reexamine the interconnected histories of gender and empire. The focus will be on the question how gender intersected with other social categories such as race, class, religion and sexuality. At the same time we strive for a comparative perspective of the subject in order to address similarities and differences between various colonial settings.
Date: September 23-26, 2015
Place: University of Cologne
Keynote speaker: Prof. Dr. Claire Midgley (Sheffield Hallam University)
Historians and scholars in neighboring disciplines are invited to present papers engaging with the general topic of gender and empire. We encourage proposals from scholars working on European, American or Japanese colonialisms between the mid-19th century and the 1930s. The papers should deal with one or several of the following aspects:
- Gender and race
- Gender, class and colonial labor relations
- Gender and religion in colonial contexts
- Gender, science and imperial knowledge production
- Colonial masculinities / femininities
- Empire, intimacy and sexuality
Please send an abstract of no more than 200 words and a short CV of no more than 100 words to Dörte Lerp (email@example.com) by December 31, 2014.