The Production of Historical Feminisms, Part Two: Transnational Strategies and the Feminist ‘We’

With this post, Johanna Gehmacher returns to the issues of tradition-building and historicization within women’s movements. Using a book that combined trans-temporal and transnational strategies to legitimise and incite feminist activism in West Germany in the 1970s as a case study, Gehmacher examines the production of meaning within feminist movements and the interconnection between visions and politics of the past, present and future in feminism. Part One of this series can be found here.

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The Production of Historical Feminisms, Part One: Historical Awareness and Political Activism

In the early 1970s, a slim pink book designated as the first issue in a series titled Frauen(raub)druck (Women’s (Bootleg) Print) became a best-seller in the burgeoning women’s movement in German-speaking countries. To categorise the influential publication is, however, a challenging task for more than one reason. Bearing two titles but no year of publication, the book lacks unambiguous and comprehensive bibliographic information.1 Also, the editors remained anonymous, and beyond a connection with the West Berlin Women’s Centre (Frauenzentrum Berlin), it is difficult to ascertain their place in the feminist milieus of the 1970s. But importantly, by linking the movement with two distinct historical and political contexts (early twentieth-century German research on gender roles in ancient societies and 1960s US-American radical feminism), the book raises questions about how to conceptualise historical awareness in 1970s feminism. To better understand the specific relationship between past, present and future the editors imagined, we have to go back to the critical feminist thinking on the production of historical feminisms that has developed since the 1990s.

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  1. For more information on the publication and its historical context, see Johanna Gehmacher, ‘Macht/Lust – Übersetzung und fragmentierte Traditionsbildung als Strategien zur Mobilisierung eines radikalen Feminismus’, in Angelika Schaser et al. (eds.), Erinnern, vergessen, umdeuten? Europäische Frauenbewegungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt, 2019), 95–123. []

Racism and Historiography

This text by Christina Morina and Norbert Frei was first published, in German, on the L.I.S.A. blog of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. It was translated by Jenny Price.

Where are you from. Here we go again, I thought, and answered: Tricky question! It depends on what you mean by where. The geographic location of the hillside on which the maternity ward stood? The national borders at the time of the last contractions? My parents’ background? Genes, ancestors, dialect? Whichever way you look at it, your origin is a construct! A kind of costume that you are forced to wear for the rest of your days once it has been fitted. And thus a curse! Or, with a bit of luck, a fortune, derived not from talent but adorned with benefits and privileges.

Saša Stanišić, Herkunft (2019)

At the end of the day, the shelf life of a text on contemporary history, especially one that intervenes in current affairs, depends on the pace at which present events unfold and respond to it.

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