Global Historical Sociology and Connected Gender Sociologies: On the Re-Nationalization and Coloniality of Gender

  • Heidemarie Winkel, Prof. Dr.
Keywords: gender, sociology, postcolonial, history, gender studies, re-nationalization, coloniality

Abstract

The article starts with a discussion of history’s and historical sociology’s influence on gender sociology. It is argued that the reconstruction of gender-historical developments as institutionally and socio-culturally sequential processes, or as historical figurations and their causal mechanisms, is a marginal research agenda in gender sociology. As a result, colonial history and its gendered legacy—which is considered pivotal for a comprehensive conceptual understanding of contemporary society—is (still) relegated to a back seat in gender sociology. This is reflected in the way how current anti-genderist controversies in European societies are discussed in terms of theory; gender sociology misses both to consult gender-historical and postcolonial perspectives systematically in the analysis of anti-genderism, although postcolonial approaches have become prominent in global historical sociology in the last decade. I suggest conceiving anti-genderists’ stance clearly as an indicator of European societies’ colonial (epistemic) legacy and as a result of the consistent (re)nationalization of gender throughout the twentieth century. Against this backdrop, the contribution starts from the question to what extent a global historical sociology can enable gender sociology to decolonize its body of knowledge and to decode the continuing (re)nationalization of gender as a colonial legacy. This includes a reflection on the extent to which gender sociology is built on a colonial body of white gender knowledge and how gender can be made visible as a colonial category of knowledge production. Accordingly, the deconstruction of gender sociology’s blind spot vis-a-vis its own imperial standpoint and its enmeshment with colonial epistemic legacies is envisioned as a central task. This is evidenced by the way how gender was inserted in national discourse throughout the second half of the twentieth century, namely as a medium that allows for the assertion of cultural differences between »us« and »them«. This finally led into a new, European nationalism after Germany’s so-called reunification, in which gender’s symbolic role once more became central, such as in the »headscarf debates« in the early 2000s, at a time when the NSU terror spread. At large it is argued that decolonial thinking reveals how classifications in terms of race and nation are unfolding as a cornerstone of the bourgeois, heteronormative gender order and how this is fostering the coloniality of gender, namely as part of (re)nationalization processes throughout the twentieth century up to now. As a consequence, recent anti-genderism affects white women and women of color alike, albeit in very different ways; but first and foremost, anti-genderism involves white women against women of color.

Author Biography

Heidemarie Winkel, Prof. Dr.

Prof. Dr. Heidemarie Winkel, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University and Senior Research Associate, St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University

Published
2018-12-03