Historical scholarship has long established the inextricable interrelationship between gender and the nation. Feminist scholars in particular have demonstrated how male nationalists incorporated women as symbolic, cultural, and biological reproducers of the nation into their “imagined communities.” Most studies on the subject tend to focus on the tensions between women’s inclusion in nationalist discourse and their exclusion from political decision-making. Others have explored women’s active role in nation-building projects. Despite scholars’ insistence on the relational character of gender, however, masculinity continues to be neglected by scholars of gender and the nation. If masculinity is addressed, historians either overstate the cohesion of interests among men or focus exclusively on hegemonic models of manhood and the corresponding perpetuation of the nation-state and patriarchy.
This conference seeks to provide a fresh perspective on the interrelationship between gender and the nation by focusing on the role of marginalized masculinities in nation-building processes between 1800 and 1945. The conference organizers believe that the constructed character and function of manhood in people’s attempts to create “imagined communities” during that period cannot be fully comprehended if the exclusive focus of analysis is the subjugation of women or their resistance to and complicity in that subjugation. Concentrating exclusively on hegemonic masculinity in these processes seems similarly narrow. To understand hegemonic notions of masculinity and the nation, we need to explore the tensions and interrelationships between these dominant concepts and their margins. Studying the history of gender and the nation from the perspective of marginalized masculinities means focusing on the conflicts among competing concepts of manhood as well as on the differences between them. Far from being one ideologically monolithic bloc, men’s access to and interest in nation-building power varies considerably according to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, dis/ability, religion, etc. The conference seeks to focus on these various fragmentations and their role in the creation, expansion, consolidation, and decline of nations around the globe.
Seeking to detect similarities/dissimilarities and continuities/discontinuities across space and time, the conference organizers invite proposals on all world regions that shed light on the history of the interrelationship between marginalized masculinities and the nation between 1800 and 1945. During that period, the emergence of particular forms of masculinity coincided with the founding of modern-nation states. Scientific racism, Imperialism, eugenics, biopolitics, and other forms of exclusion and subjugation became part and parcel of these gendered nation-building processes. The conference organizers accept paper proposals that focus on one particular nation, but they are also interested in comparative and transnational analyses that help us theorize the complex history of marginalized masculinities and the nation in the modern world.
Possible questions that could be addressed include (but are not limited to):
• What were the historical conditions under which certain forms of masculinity (including hegemonic masculinities) came to be marginalized vis-à-vis the nation, while others were not? How did these conditions change over time?
• To what extent and how did hegemonic notions of masculinity and the nation incorporate marginalized masculinities?
• How did women perpetuate or challenge the marginalization of certain masculinities in nation-building processes? What role did “emphasized femininities” and “marginalized femininities” play in these processes?
• What alternative notions of nation did marginalized men develop when being confronted with exclusion from hegemonic nationalism?
• How did marginalized men challenge their exclusion from or collaborated with hegemonic ideologies in nation-building projects?
• How did the tensions between hegemonic and marginalized masculinities impede or derail attempts to create national unity?
• What role did marginalized masculinities play in symbolic representations of the nation? What is their symbolic relationship to emphasized and marginalized femininities?
• What effects did scientific racism, biopolitics, colonialism, and Imperialism have on the interrelationship between hegemonic/marginalized masculinities and the nation?
• What role did the male body play in the marginalization of certain forms of masculinity vis-à-vis the nation?
This conference is organized by Pablo Dominguez (University of Heidelberg) and Simon Wendt (University of Frankfurt) and will be held at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies in Heidelberg, Germany, on March 15-17, 2012. The University of Heidelberg will provide support for presenters’ travel and lodging expenses. A selection of papers will be considered for publication in an edited collection.
Please send a 500-word proposal and a 2-page CV to Pablo Dominguez (firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 30, 2011. Authors whose proposals are accepted will be notified by August 31, 2011. Inquiries about the conference can also be directed to Pablo Dominguez.
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