Women’s roles in history are manifold. They are remembered as leaders, rebels, supporters, and in many other functions. Some women, however, have acquired a status that eclipses historiography. These women have become mythological figures, used to emphasise and legitimise arguments of particular social significance. Often martial in nature, some of these mythological women were and are used in an imperialistic context as symbols of power and authority. In other cases, they are figures of resistance. Examples range from centuries-old warrior queens that set out on conquests, to modern resistance fighters that rebelled against colonial rule, all used as a call to unity and action by subsequent generations.
Goal of the Workshop
The workshop aims to collect examples of such female figures from all over the world, and find commonalities and differences in their utilisation in an imperialist context across geographic regions and historical periods.
The workshop is designed to be a platform particularly for junior researchers who study the roles of women in imperialism, but have not yet (or recently) had opportunity for extensive interdisciplinary exchange. The call for papers is open to any academic field and not limited by geographic location or historical era, provided the proposed paper is relevant to the topic described above. Preference will be given to applicants that present part of their dissertation or postdoc research.
Form of the Workshop
The workshop will take place from 28–30 June 2021, in an online format. Please take note that the workshop takes place in Europe, and therefore will adhere primarily to European business hours.
Each participant is required to give a presentation of about 20 minutes, and prepare a handout (1-2 pages) in advance, as well as take part in the discussions. Please submit an abstract of a maximum of 300 words as well as a short CV (name, affiliation, academic status) until 04 April 2021 to the email address below.
Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly is a professor of German literature at the University of Oxford. Her main research interests are in German literature and culture from the late 15th to the early 18th centuries, in women’s writing in all periods, in the representation of women and in the way in which culture is used to project power. Beauty or Beast? The Woman Warrior in the German Imagination from the Renaissance to the Present (OUP) appeared in 2010 and her new book, Projecting Imperial Power - New Nineteenth Century Emperors and the Public Sphere (OUP) will be published this summer.
Emily B. Simpson received her PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2019 and is now a lecturer at Dartmouth College. Her research centers on the legend of Empress Jingū, a third century shaman, empress and conqueror appearing in early Japanese chronicles. Simpson pays particular attention to the medieval reinterpretations of Jingū’s legend within various Buddhist and Shinto traditions and their subsequent impact on the formation of women’s cults centred on the empress. Her book project Crafting a Goddess: Divinization and Womanhood in Late Medieval and Early Modern Narratives of Empress Jingū explores how diverse religious institutions divinized Empress Jingū, focusing on her martial and shamanic deeds, her motherhood and childbirth, or her connections to maritime deities and communities.