The Department of Social Sciences of the Università di Napoli Federico II, the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Università di Napoli L’Orientale together with the International collaborative doctoral network in Women’s and Gender History will be jointly running the Graduate Conference on Gender and Crisis in History, to be held June 22-24, 2015, on the island of Procida (Napoli). This conference brings together history graduate students whose original research deal with gender and crisis.
Whilst the category of ‘gender’ has a well-established epistemological status, how relational systems have changed historically still poses questions for research.
The social sciences suggest that there are diverse fields in which – in a given context – gender identities are constructed and identification processes occur. These are interrelated yet distinct fields: they range from cultural systems of meaning to economic-productive relations; from the intimate personal sphere to the legal and institutional dimension in the broad sense.
Historical research shows that the change takes place at different times and assumes different forms in these diverse spheres, and that it is not possible to identify ‘a transformative event’ in, or a ‘crisis’ of, gender relations as a whole. Nor do interpretations of modernity in terms of ‘permanent crisis’ avoid tautology in this regard.
There are nevertheless critical phases, or political, social, cultural or economic junctures at which consolidated equilibria and arrangements are put to the test on the terrain of gender relations as well.
Hence, around a plural and strongly localized notion of ‘crisis’, the aim of the Conference is to gather current streams of research on different periods and geographical contexts, and to encourage discussion among them.
We therefore invite papers proposals pertaining to three main lines of inquiry, which may also intersect:
1. how critical phases of change or dramatic ruptures are translated into and/or are accompanied by alterations in the system of gender relations; and, vice-versa, how gender influences those processes, and what are the gender bases of instabilities in, and shocks to, the economic, political, social and/or cultural system;
2. whilst a plurality of models usually operate in different contexts, there are historical periods in which new ones emerge, and in which forms of ‘dissidence’/provocation implicitly or explicitly challenge established equilibria and hierarchies;
3. history is strewn with claims of an ongoing ‘crisis’ in the relations between men and women. The topic to explore is this: in what contexts does this happen, within what institutional frameworks, and with what consequences? To be noted in particular is the long-standing claim concerning the ‘crisis of masculinity’, which is so widespread that it renders the category itself somewhat inflated in public discourse and in contemporary common-sense.