Image for Women in World History Summer Institute

June 3 - 4, 2016

How do questions about gender deepen our understanding of the Roman Empire? Did the expansion of Christianity and Islam alter gender roles? What did it mean to be a woman in late Imperial China? In what ways did gendered ideas about femininity and masculinity affect political discource in revolutionary Mexico? Why were women instrumental in the development and spread of Modernism? How did women shape East African decolonization and state-building? What can we learn about the 1979 Iranian Revolution by analyzing the role of gender in that movement?

World History survey and AP courses often focus on a common set of global developments, then encourage students to make comparisons and see connections across regions. The 2016 Community College Summer Institute aims to use this set of commonly-taught topics as a framework for exploring the roles of women and gender in World History. Attendees will be presented with a combination of case studies, historical context, and conceptual frameworks for discussing gender in world history. They will leave with new content (and new questions) to make their own courses more complex, engaging, and inclusive.

This program is open to community college instructors and AP-level high school teachers. There is no cost to attend. 

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Friday, June 3

8:30 - 9:00 AM

Check in and breakfast

9:00 - 9:20 AM

Introductions - Alan Karras and Shane Carter

9:20 - 10:40 AM

Muslims and Matriarchs: Gender and Identity Politics in Indonesia

Jeff Hadler

This talk will introduce the history of gender in Southeast Asia, considering local ideas of gender and their interaction with concepts imposed by religion and state. There will be a special focus on the Minangkabau of West Sumatra, the world's largest matriarchal Muslim society.

10:50 AM - 12:10 PM

Women in Late Imperial China
Beverly Bossler 

What do we know about the lives of women in late imperial China, and how do we know it? How did women live their lives? What aspirations and dreams did they have? How were their lives constrained, and in what ways did they find meaning within those constraints?

This talk will introduce recent findings on the lives of Chinese women sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. It will cover such topics as education and literacy; women’s work; the multiple meanings of footbinding; and the demands of the “fidelity cult.” It will also explore the radical changes for women that were introduced in the early twentieth century.

12:10 - 1:10 PM

Lunch and conversation

1:10 - 2:30 PM

The Currency of “Women’s Rights”: Decolonization, Democracy, and Development in East Africa
Corrie Decker 

When and why did women's rights become a priority in East Africa? The call for "women's rights" has been central to political movements for independence, democratization, and development in the region. This talk examines the conditions under which "women's rights" gained currency in public discourse by focusing on three case studies from East Africa: the era of nationalism and socialism in Zanzibar; the shift to multi-party democracy in Kenya, and recent development discourses in Tanzania.

2:40 - 4:00 PM

Catholic Ladies and Culture Wars: Gender, Church, and Politics in Mexico, 1750-1912
Margaret Chowning 

How did women influence politics before they had the vote? How do gendered ideas about femininity and masculinity pervade political discourse?

She will explore answers to these two questions, using the case of Catholic women in nineteenth-century Mexico. But they are questions that can be fruitfully asked for many different time periods and places. She will argue that as historians, we should always consider whether a gendered perspective changes our view of familiar events and phenomena such as the Age of Revolution or the Age of Exploration, because we never know what we will find until we ask.

4:00 - 4:30 PM

Closing discussion facilitated by Alan Karras

Saturday, June 4

8:30 - 9:00 AM

Check in and breakfast

9:00 - 9:40 AM

Group discussion facilitated by Alan Karras

9:40 - 11:00 AM

Deliberating Bodies: the Conventus Matronarum and the Senaculum in Severan Rome
Beth Pollard 

Mention of two women’s councils --- the conventus matronarum and a women’s senaculum --- along with with the epigraphic evidence for active public works programs funded by women in the later Roman Empire suggest that women were claiming genuine agency in Roman politics, especially by the Severan period (193-235 CE). This talk presents both the evidence from historical narratives for these female deliberating bodies and a sampling of inscriptions that underscore women’s role in the public sphere.  While the references to the conventus matronarum and the senaculum are embedded in invective-filled narrative, this talk will show that the topics upon which these councils deliberated --- clothing, conveyance, and other “female etiquette” --- were high-stakes issues not only for the women discussing them but also for their community as a whole.  Similarly, public dedications of major public spaces by women like Claudia Antonia Sabina at Sardis, Claudia Antonia Tatiana at Aphrodisias, and Plancia Magna at Perge (all in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey) demonstrate that women could exert significant influence over their communities.  A re-examination of evidence for women’s formalized political activity in the Empire offers one opportunity to challenge male imperial power as the default lens through which to examine the politics of imperial Rome ca. 200 CE and earlier.  Scholars revisit the topic of women’s political agency in Rome whenever women make strides in contemporary American politics, whether suffrage or the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  Perhaps it is fitting, then, to reconsider the question in a year that is witnessing a viable White House run by a woman. 

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Group discussion facilitated by Alan Karras and Shane Carter

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Lunch and continued discussion

1:00 - 2:20 PM

Women's Work: Bringing Modernism into the Everyday
JoAnn Conrad  

Modernism is well recognized as a distinct and important period in the realms of art and literature. However, not as well understood are the ways in which these developments in the fine arts emerged and were constituted in the nexus of technological, social, scientific, psychological, and economic discourses of the first years of the 20th century. Rather than being held separate from the ordinary world, modernists were very much part of it, themselves experimenting with a variety of "industrial arts" -- cinema, animation, theater design, textile design, fashion, illustration for popular consumption, and perhaps most significantly, advertising. This relationship has been written out of standard histories of modernism, but to revisit these mutually informing spheres reveals the critical role of women artists during this time. Rather than being assigned to the role of "muse" or helper, women were active agents in not only experimenting with modernism in all its potentiality, but in working (often without credit) in the public and commercial arts, and it was they, much more than their more famous male counterparts, who normalized a modernist aesthetic into popular culture. JoAnn Conrad will use case studies of individual women Modernists to describe the international community within which Modernism was born and explain how Modernism made the transition from elite intellectual movement to global phenomenon. In the process, she'll illustrate how asking critical questions about gender helps us develop a more complete understanding of history.

2:30 - 3:50 PM

Women and the Iranian Revolution of 1979
Minoo Moallem

This lecture will focus on the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the emergence of an Islamic nationalist and transnationalist movement in Iran. Minoo Moallem argues that in the context of the Iranian Revolution, technologies of vision as well as gender performance proved central to the formation of a modern gendered citizen-subject and its mobilization in pre- and postrevolutionary Iran

4:00 - 4:30 PM

Closing discussion facilitated by Alan Karras and Shane Carter


On Gender

"Questions of Gender", by Joanne Bailey

For many more gender-related sites and book recommendations, see the resource site for Gender in History by Mary Wiesner-Hanks

Gender equality: A view from the loo | Isha Ray | TEDxBerkeley

On Islam and Indonesia

Mapping the Global Muslim Population from Pew Research

Village Childhood: The Autobiography of A Minangkabau Child by Muhamad Radjab

Islam in Southeast Asia - curriculum materials from the Asia Society

Islam in Southeast Asia - background essay from UC Berkeley's ISEAS

Basic Overview of Indonesian History from Cornell's Center for International Studies

Patterns of Islamization in Indonesia from Cornell's Center for International Studies

On Late Imperial China

Key Points about the Qing from Asia for Educators

Living in the Chinese Cosmos: Understanding Religion in the Late-Imperial Period from Asia for Educators

Communists, Nationalists, and China's Revolutions: Crash Course World History #37

Hairy Politics: What's in a Braid?

On East Africa

Broad Overview of African Decolonial Movements from MSU's Exploring Africa curriculum

Broad Overview of Post-Colonial African Politics from MSU's Exploring Africa curriculum

Political Transitions in Africa, from University of Illinois' Center for African Studies

"Gender and Leadership" from Irohin at the University of Florida

African Women in Politics, podcast episode #58 from Africa Past and Present

On Mexico

Latin American Revolutions: Crash Course World History #31

16 de Septiembre - Overview of Mexican Independence from LearnNC

"Limited Independence, Limited Democracy" from UC Berkeley's CLAS

Overview of the history of church/state relations in Mexico from Library of Congress Country Studies

Gender and Race in Colonial Latin America from the Center for History and New Media

War and Independence in Spanish America, 1810 - 1826, podcast from the Institute of Historical Research

On Roman Women

Links to full-text scholarly articles on women in the Ancient Western world

Greek, Roman, and Egyptian texts related to women from Diotima

"The Role of Women in the Roman World" from The Ancient History Encyclopedia

On Revolutionary Iran

Iran's Revolutions: Crash Course World History 226

Background on 20th Century Iran from Origins at OSU

Background on Iran and Imperialism from Origins at OSU

Iran: Country Study from the Library of Congress

Resources on Women and Gender in the Middle East and North Africa from MENA