Politics and Hegemony in the Historiography of Women’s Movements (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries): A Call for New Debates
My aim, from an early-twenty-first century perspective, is to summarise the main factors complicating the writing of women’s movements history today, reflecting on various dimensions of the institutionalisation and professionalisation of women’s movements and feminist history. I suggest that the historiography of women’s movements still retains a structural dichotomy between so-called “political” and “non-political” spheres of women’s activity, strengthening asymmetries in the way the activities of different groups of women are perceived. I link the dichotomy of political/non-political to another problematic dichotomy that I call “real” versus “inauthentic” feminism – a dichotomy which I think underpins certain historiographic/methodological assumptions about how historians may know and/or identify feminism in a given historical context. “Inauthentic” feminism tends to be both identified with Eastern European or non-European regions of the world and therefore constitutes another West-centric paradigm that we must work to address. But the difficulty of defining “the political”, and the tension between “the political” and the “non-political” is the key issue here. I ask readers to consider the extent to which a modern liberal, national, juridical/rights-based model of citizenship frames and structures dominant historical perceptions of political activism and agency. I then call for a debate in feminist and women’s movements history that could make this problem central to its concerns.
von Anna Loutfi
In: Gehmacher, Johanna / Vittorelli, Natscha (Hg.): Wie Frauenbewegung geschrieben wird .... Wien 2009