Is Gender an Island?: Place in Women’s History
Women’s history has a secured a place in history. But what about the role of place in women’s history? Conversely, regional and state histories tend to overlook women’s role in the past, at least in the American context, singling out special ‘moments’ of interest, such as frontier beginnings, suffrage or WWII. Yet, just as often, scholars of locally-focused women’s history fail to incorporate the role place played in shaping the history of women in that region; instead telling a story where gender is the primary or only variable, leaving narratives of state or regional history unchanged. It is our contention that by gathering scholars of regional women’s history, we can fruitfully discuss place as a category of analysis useful for historians of women and gender, both those who consider themselves regionally focused and those who have not yet.
We are seeking participants for a roundtable on regional women’s histories. We would like to hear from scholars at work on state or regional women’s history whose work addresses, or may address in the future questions such as:
To what extent do regional boundaries isolate or connect the women living within those boundaries? What do we learn by treating political states and geographic regions as historically unique locations or islands in women’s history? Are these ‘political borders’ always fruitful? How is place a category in women’s history? How has place shaped gender? Has this changed over time? Participants would ideally present historiographical musings on the role of place, broadly defined as political and/or geographically bounded regions, in the history of women in those states, or regions.
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