Christof Dejung, Univ. of Bern and Angelika Epple, Univ. of Bielefeld
Proposals by: 02.07.2021
During the last 20 years, global history has not only become an established field of expertise, but also a task mainly carried out by male historians of the global North. Until recently, only a few female scholars have shown any interest in engaging in the global history project. What is more, when we look at the global history books written in the past two decades, women appear only rarely as historical actors, and gender issues seem to be only relevant when it comes to family structures.
To be sure, gender relations and their intersections with categories such as ethnicity/race or class are an integral part of studies in colonial history or area studies. This is, however, much less the case in global history. In many of the numerous studies which examine the effects of worldwide interaction, individual actors – of all sexes – are barely mentioned: They only become part of global historical accounts when they have played a specific role as political leaders, revolutionary scientists or famous artists.
Unintentionally, so it seems, the structure-driven or empire-centered approaches in global history each lead to a backdrop framing the traditional narrative according to which big men make history. The indexes of most global history books reveal this finding clearly: women do not show up. What does this mean for global history as a distinct field of research? What kinds of voices, memories and actors are silenced by such an approach? And what does it mean that the actors’ gender, their masculinity or their femininity, are barely examined in a systematic manner, or that queer and transgender actors who do not fit into the Western gender dichotomy are mostly ignored?
What is more, there seems to exist a historiographical gender division in terms of who actually writes global history. Scholars such as Christopher Bayly, Jürgen Osterhammel, Akira Iriye, John McNeill, Ian Morris, Roy Bin Wong, Patrick O’Brian, Sven Beckert, Dominic Sachsenmaier, Dipesh Chakrabarty, John Darwin or Jan Luiten van Zanden, to name but a few, have described a world both of … read more and source (Web).