Gender and Practices of Empire in Habsburg Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1878-1918

Institute for East European History, University of Vienna
Ninja Bumann (University of Vienna), Rachel Trode (European University Institute)
25.06.2020 - 26.06.2020
Ninja Bumann

The Habsburg administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lasting nearly four decades (1878-1918), is arguably one of the most studied periods in the history of this region. Much of the work produced by historians on this topic has focused on institution and infrastructure building, as well as on the politicisation and/or nationalisation of Bosnia’s local confessional communities. More recently, scholars have also considered the ways in which relations of power in Bosnia were constituted through cultural products and representations. Historians have, in particular, analysed the relationships between Bosnians and their rulers (and to some extent within national/confessional groups) by focusing on the use of language, literature and writing practices as well as education. While issues related to gender have been addressed in part by cultural historians, a systematic approach to gender relations in Habsburg Bosnia as a subject of inquiry in its own right remains to be seen.

This workshop seeks to explore the role of gender in state–society relations in Habsburg Bosnia. The workshop takes as its starting point the idea that gender relations can be understood both discursively and as socially constructed relationships between men and women. Gender relations, however, can also refer to subjectivities that may not fit this dualism, such as in the case of the regulation of homosexuality. Specifically, the workshop seeks to focus on the place of gender in practices of governance, which include analyses of imperial institutions, administrative practices, cultural programs and the ways in which people engaged with these. Such an approach, which foregrounds the agency of local actors, allows us to broaden the extensively used paradigm of confession/nation as well as representations of dichotomies such as colony/metropole and colonizers/colonized.

In particular, we aim to address the following questions:

- How did gender relations shape formal and non-formal practices of governance at all levels (imperial, regional, local) in Habsburg Bosnia? How did practices of governance shape gender relations?

- How did people experience and interact with these gendered practices of governance and what was the specific role of gender in their interaction?

- How were such gendered practices of empire embodied? What was the relationship between the Habsburg rule and gendered practices of clothing, sexuality, medicine, etc.?

- To what degree can we speak about change and continuity (before, during, and after the occupation/annexation) regarding gendered practices of empire in Habsburg Bosnia? Is it possible to identify a legacy of gendered practices of empire?

We invite submissions from PhD researchers and early career scholars which specifically address these questions, but remain open to contributions that deal with aspects of gender in Habsburg Bosnia in a broader context.

Abstracts of maximum 350 words in English should be submitted to by 31/01/2020. Successful applicants will be asked to submit their papers by 25/05/2020 in order for them to be circulated amongst the participants prior to the workshop.

There is a possibility for financial assistance for accepted participants who do not have access to institutional support.


Ninja Bumann

Institute for East European History, University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna

Gender and Practices of Empire in Habsburg Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1878-1918, 25.06.2020 – 26.06.2020 Vienna, in: H-Soz-Kult, 06.12.2019, <>.
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