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Making Women's Histories

Beyond National Perspectives

Pamela S. Nadell

Publication Year: 2013

Making Women's Histories showcases the transformations that the intellectual and political production of women’s history has engendered across time and space. It considers the difference women’s and gender history has made to and within national fields of study, and to what extent the wider historiography has integrated this new knowledge. What are the accomplishments of women’s and gender history? What are its shortcomings? What is its future?
The contributors discuss their discovery of women’s histories,the multiple turns the field has taken, and how place affected the course of this scholarship. Noted scholars of women’s and gender history, they stand atop such historiographically-defined vantage points as Tsarist Russia, the British Empire in Egypt and India, Qing-dynasty China, and the U.S. roiling through the 1960s. From these and other peaks they gaze out at the world around them, surveying trajectories in the creation of women’s histories in recent and distant pasts and envisioning their futures.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. 1-7


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pp. 8-9


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pp. ix-x

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Writing Women’s History across Time and Space: Introduction

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pp. 1-14

“My commitment to women’s history came out of my life, not out of my head,” wrote the pioneering historian Gerda Lerner. As a graduate student, Lerner had encountered “a world of ‘significant knowledge,’” in which women seemed not to exist.1 She dedicated her career to the project of remaking that body of knowledge, demanding that it include the lives and experiences of...


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1. Women’s Past and the Currents of U.S. History

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pp. 17-37

Less than half a century ago, the subject of women and gender barely registered in the scholarship and teaching of American historians. In remarkably short order, uncovering women’s past became a political imperative and intellectual passion, and then emerged as a legitimate area of professional inquiry and research. With some distance from its origins, it is now possible...

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2. New Directions in Russian and Soviet Women’s History

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pp. 38-60

A product of second-wave feminism, in the United States the field of Russian and Soviet women’s history was also born under another and very different political star: the Cold War. For students of the imperial and modern periods of Russia’s history, if not of earlier times, the impact of the Cold War was enormous, lingering even after 1991 and the end of the geopolitical divisions from which it had arisen. Only in the past ten or fifteen years have historians in the...

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3. Putting the Political in Economy: African Women’s and Gender History, 1992–2010

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pp. 61-90

In the mid-1980s, my historiographical survey of scholarly works on African women revealed a focus on political economy, with emphases on women’s highly productive and important economic activities and women’s agency, moving away from the tendency either to ignore women entirely or treat them as passive victims. These attempts to rectify the gaps in the literature rebutted the stereotypical oversexualization of black women by whites and the related...

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4. Sexual Crises, Women’s History, and the History of Sexuality in Europe

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pp. 91-112

In 1916, Austrian feminist Grete Meisel-Hess proclaimed that a “sexual crisis” afflicted contemporary society. Sexual fulfillment was necessary for both men and women, she argued, but the capitalist order and men’s selfishness prevented its flourishing, locking women into unhappy marriages or the sexless misery of spinsterhood.1 Expanding on Meisel-Hess, I define a sexual crisis as...


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5. Gender and the Politics of Exceptionalism in the Writing of British Women’s History

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pp. 115-136

In 1793, a Norfolk surgeon named Richard Dinmore published the controversial tract, A Brief Account of the Moral and Political Acts of the Kings and Queens of England from William the Conqueror to the Revolution in the Year 1688. A political radical with close ties to “Jacobin” circles in nearby Norwich, Dinmore revisited the history of the reigning kings and queens of England in order to underscore the need for parliamentary reform. Dinmore was particularly interested in chronicling the history...

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6. Amateur Historians, the “Woman Question,” and the Production of Modern History in Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Egypt

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pp. 137-160

Egyptian women only recently played critical roles in the eighteen days of protests that toppled Mohammed Husni Mubarak’s thirty-year presidency on February 11, 2011.1 Photographs of the demonstrations revealed women marching in the streets, confronting both the military and the Egyptian riot police, and tending to the sick and wounded in Tahrir Square. Similarly, video clips, recorded and released just prior to the outbreak...

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7. Women’s and Gender History in Modern India: Researching the Past, Reflecting on the Present

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pp. 161-184

One might argue that historians always write, Janus-faced, with a view toward both the past and the present. Certainly, attention to these dual temporalities— to both the historical past and the contemporary context—helps us to understand the trajectories of research in Indian women’s history from its professionalization in the 1970s and 1980s onward. Questions about the postcolonial present, most specifically about the ongoing oppression of...


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8. World History Meets History of Masculinity in Latin American Studies

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pp. 187-210

A transnational turn is certainly afoot in the discipline of history. While world history as a field is hardly new, it has usually played second-fiddle to the histories of particular nation-states and the regions carved out by area studies. But recently almost every national history field and regional field has recognized the need for a gaze that looks across hallowed borders and oceans with fresh eyes.2 As the forces of globalization...

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9. Connecting Histories of Gender, Health, and U.S.-China Relations

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pp. 211-236

Like other historical fields, especially those deeply engaged with politics, the study of U.S. foreign relations came late to incorporate a gendered perspective. Eventually, new scholarship on women’s and gender history affected its historiography, as scholars repositioned a field traditionally concerned with masculine narratives of nationalism, military interventions, and diplomacy...

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10. A Happier Marriage? Feminist History Takes the Transnational Turn

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pp. 237-258

Three decades ago, the feminist economist Heidi Hartmann quipped that the marriage of Marxism and feminism had been “like the marriage of husband and wife depicted in English common law: Marxism and feminism are one, and that one is Marxism.”1 Hartmann called for a “more progressive union” that recognized capitalist structures and patriarchal inequalities. Since then, Marxist and feminist studies have both changed...

About the Contributors

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pp. 259-262


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pp. 263-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780814759226
E-ISBN-10: 0814758908
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814758908
Print-ISBN-10: 0814758908

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013