Lecture Series: Between Invisibility and Autonomy
Wann: Mo, 24.10.2022, 18:00 Uhr bis 20:00 Uhr
Wo: Warburgstraße 26, 20354 Hamburg
Between Invisibility and Autonomy: Negotiating Gender Roles in Manuscript Cultures
Gender Studies and Manuscript Cultures: The Case of Assyriology
Professor Dr Dr h.c. Cécile Michel (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Nanterre / Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Universität Hamburg)
The development of the feminist and post-feminist movements in social sciences and humanities is usually perceived to have occurred in three overlapping waves. During the 1960s and 1970s, trying to establish women’s studies in the academy, scholars looked for women in written artefacts in order to make invisible women visible and to integrate them into history. The term ‘gender’ was adopted by historians only during the 1980s, and by Assyriologists a decade later. The idea was to understand why women often appear in subordinated positions compared to men, why they were less present in texts and iconography, and how a society attributes roles to each sex. The post-feminist movement questions this binary male/female structure as well as the motivations and presuppositions of the scientific process itself. The focus is no longer centered on an androcentric approach but on differences, whatever they may be: social, ethnical, political, cultural, etc. Through written sources, the historian investigates the way in which the difference has been culturally invested by societies. In Assyriology, early studies on women were influenced by historical preconceptions based on the place of women in the classical world or in Islam, visible in the choice of the words ‘harem’ or ‘veil’ in the translations of cuneiform manuscripts. Since 2000, the number of studies dedicated to the topic of gender have grown exponentially and the fifth conference on Gender, Methodology and the Ancient Near East (GeMANE 5) took place in Helsinki last June. In this lecture, after a general introduction on gender studies related to manuscript cultures, I will present the diversity of methodologies and approaches on women and gender studies applied to cuneiform texts.