About Gender History

What is Gender History?

Gender is a central category for the understanding of society and thus also an important category of analysis. Gender history is concerned with questions of social power relations and related exclusions in the past and present. To this end, it examines social change and gender as a relational, intersectional, and interdependent category. Gender is placed in relation to other social categories of difference such as race, class, sexuality, disability, etc. The perspectives of gender history work locally, regionally, globally and in all historical epochs (e.g., in European history: during antiquity, in the Middle Ages, early modernity, modernity and contemporary history). Moreover, gender history focuses on various thematic fields, i.e., cultural history, economic history, the micro history, environmental and technical history, etc.

Gender History at the University of Innsbruck currently focuses on European history since Early Modernity, on migration history since the late 18th century, on biographical research, on cultural history, feminist epistemologies, postcolonial feminist perspectives, economic history, the history of science and humanities, theories and methods of history, and current debates on gender.

Since the establishment of women’s and gender studies in the second half of the 20th century feminist historiography has made women* visible as actors in history, examined gender as a dimension of inequality in societies, analysed gender relations as relations of power and inequality, explored the construction and production of gender, and thus added important theoretical, epistemological, and methodological perspectives to the discipline of history.

You can read a short history of gender history here (in German, written by Levke Harders); you will also find further references there. Levke Harders’ inaugural lecture “Wissenschaft ohne Geschlechtergeschichte ist möglich. Aber sinnlos” [„Research and teaching without gender history is possible. But pointless”] at the University of Innsbruck on 23.06.2002 is available as a video (her lecture starts at minute 24). Overviews of gender history are regularly offered in the courses of the BA and MA programmes in history.




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