Approaching women’s and gender history: current perspectives and future priorities
From her perspective as editor of Gender & History and as a researcher of early modern British gender history, Professor Shepard will reflect on the current state of women’s and gender history. While there are many ongoing positive developments in the field, there also remain several challenges and potential pitfalls. This lecture will explore some of the ways in which women’s and gender history can contribute to our understandings of the past by reorienting research questions and narratives of change. It will be argued that just as the discipline of history needs and will benefit from gender analysis, so the category of gender needs historians’ theoretical engagement for its future development.
Alexandra Shepard is Professor of Gender History at the University of Glasgow. She was Director of the Glasgow University Centre for Gender History between 2013 and 2015, and co-editor of Gender & History between 2010 and 2015. She is author of Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England (Oxford University Press, 2003) and Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status and the Social Order in Early Modern England (Oxford University Press, 2015), as well as co-editor (with Garthine Walker) of Gender, Periodisation and Change (Blackwell, 2009). She has published several articles on early modern women’s economic agency, and is currently leading an International Network (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) on ‘Producing Change: Gender and Work in Early Modern Europe’.
The geopolitics and body-politics of gendered histories, or a shift from antiquarianism to activism
A crucial part of scholarly investigations in gender, feminist and sexuality studies lies in the realm of historiography which becomes a lab for the emergence of innovative methods and approaches. The new methodologies and theories in their turn, effect the established modern discipline of historiography leading it into the previously neglected border areas between different disciplines, as well as between historiography and the arts, and also those areas of knowledge and experience that have been discarded before. The traditional descriptive and antiquarian object-subject approaches of the historical science then are supplemented by the newer ways of projecting the historical knowledge on gender, women and sexuality onto today’s and tomorrow’s reality and human agency and activism.
The focus here is on gendered histories, which are not only geo-politically localized but also necessarily embodied, as a source of vigorous epistemologies allowing bringing the past into the future in critical, complex, and dynamic forms. Such interventions into the present and the future are marked by the shift from mere antiquarianism to historically informed activism as they probe for the spaces (museum, university, social movements) and media (academic and non-academic scholarly works, art, fiction) that would be most appropriate for the diversifying and unfolding of the potential critical thinking and agency in unexpected interstices such as the women’s gender and sexuality historicities.
Madina Tlostanova is professor at the Department of Philosophy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. She has published widely and in multiple languages. She is an internationally known scholar whose writing critically examines questions of epistemology, history, geography, power and identity. Her book Gender Epistemologies and Eurasian Borderlands (2010) is widely regarded as an important intervention in feminist studies and decolonial theory. She also co-authored with Walter Mignolo, Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas (2012).