Global Historical Sociology and Connected Gender Sociologies: On the Re-Nationalization and Coloniality of Gender
Keywords:gender, sociology, postcolonial, history, gender studies, re-nationalization, coloniality
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.