Gender and Colonialism: Cultures, Histories, and Theories
Chunjie Zhang and Elisabeth Krimmer (UC Davis)
This edited volume explores the nexus between gender and colonialism in German, Austrian, Swiss, and Dutch colonial and neocolonial entanglements. While England, France, and Spain are generally considered major colonial powers and are often studied and compared, the colonial histories of Germany and the Netherlands have rarely been linked despite the linguistic and cultural affinities between these two European countries. Similarly, the involvement of Austria and Switzerland in colonial commerce and exploitation has rarely been discussed. This volume explores the complex role of women in colonial and neocolonial conditions in the German, Austrian, Swiss, and Dutch context. We are interested in papers that focus on female victims of colonialism; on women who were complicit in colonial conquest and rule; on women who resisted colonization and its aftermath; and in papers that explore the complex ways in which these three categories overlap and conflict. Studies in colonial history typically parse the colonial history of one specific nation state while neglecting the important role of gender in the colonial context. In contrast, our volume invites contributions that interrogate the nexus of gender and colonialism from a variety of cultural, historical, and theoretical perspectives.
In spite of changing demographics and increased diversity in the Netherlands and in German-speaking countries, misperceptions about the colonial ventures of these countries persist. Unreflected patterns of racialization affect perceptions and policies surrounding refugees and migration. The effects of Western imperialism and neocolonialism persist long after or even without an extensive colonial history. Immigrants and refugees are perceived as outsiders and/or dismissed as inferior. The European colonial past continues to rear its ugly head in everyday encounters: statues and street signs honor colonial perpetrators; everyday speech, ranging from TV news to advertisements, relies on derogatory, racist terminology. At the same time, gender continues to interfere with the understandings of colonialism and of political and moral agency on every level. “Superior” nations are often coded as masculine whereas “inferior” nations are derided as effeminate. Similarly, guilt and responsibility are often seen as functions of gender as they serve to minimize or erase responsibility for discrimination, political crimes, and even genocide. Conversely, notions of gender can also heighten the sense of culpability. It is thus important to recognize the inextricable link between contemporary racist and gendered discourses and the colonial past in the larger European context.
In sum, we seek to broaden the scope of German and postcolonial studies and to contribute to the larger effort of decolonization with a focus on women and colonialism and a shift from a national to a transnational approach.
Possible themes include but are not limited to the following:
- contemporary women writers, filmmakers, artists, and activists, such as the Nigerian German director Branwen Okpako or the author Sharon Dodua Otoo, who seek to deconstruct the colonial legacy of German-speaking nations and the Netherlands in literature, the cinema, visual cultures and music and/or who make contributions to efforts to decolonize Dutch and German-language culture
- women’s interventions in contemporary political discourses surrounding migration, refugee policies and right-wing movements with a link to colonialism
- analyses of texts by racialized authors published in translation
- the politics of gender and colonialism in museums
- the role of gender in discourses on reparation, including Germany’s recent recognition of the genocide in Namibia
- women who participated in or promoted through literary and political texts imperial expansion in German Southwest Africa, German East Africa, Togo, Cameroon, German New Guinea, German Samoa, the Bismarck, Marshall, Caroline, and Mariana Islands, and Kiaochow
- Colonial discourses in essays, diaries, travelogues, and fictional texts by women authors, such as Frieda von Bülow, Adda von Liliencron, Magdalene von Prince, Margarethe von Eckenbrecher, Clara Brockmann, and C. Falkenhorst
- The link between colonial conquest and religion through the lens of women missionaries
- The representation of colonialism in the life writing of German nurses and female teachers
- The role of colonial organizations for women, including the German Women’s Association for Nursing in the Colonies, the German National Women’s League, the German-Colonial Women’s League
- The nexus of gender, racial purity, white supremacy, and imperial expansion, including the participation of women writers and thinkers in discourses surrounding the fraught concepts of “miscegenation” and intermarriage
- the link between women’s movements and colonialism, including fascist feminists who tie the concept of women’s rights to concepts of Germanness
Please send a short abstract (250 words) and title for your essay and a two-page bio to both Elisabeth Krimmer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chunjie Zhang (email@example.com) by August 15th, 2021. We will inform contributors of their acceptance by September 15th, 2021. Your finished essay is due on July 1, 2022.