Women as Agents of Empire : Sexuality and Immigration in the Spanish Empire during the XVIIIth century

Although colonization has largely been seen as masculine effort, women were a critical part of late colonial colonization schemes. These imperial projects, which involved the voluntary resettlement of families from one part of the empire to another, were predicated on assumptions about the role of women and families in reinforcing European norms in the colonies, whose creole cultures differed increasingly from those of their European counterparts. In 1778, Spain attempted just such a colonization project, moving more than 1900 peasants from northern Spain (including nearly 850 adult women) to the Rio de la Plata. In this paper, I will examine both the assumptions of imperial authorities about the ongoing need for women on the periphery of the Spanish empire and the role of these peasant women in bringing peninsular culture and gender norms to new outposts established in the regions outside of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. In my preliminary research, I have found that although the presence of peninsular women was important in bringing stable families to those outposts, these female immigrants did not always maintain the rigid sexual and gender expectations that the authorities desired.  Indeed, their native peninsular cultures that emphasized female authority and tolerated non-marital sexuality had much more in common with colonial culture than imperial authorities understood. Moreover, their presence only temporarily mitigated relationships between Spanish men and women of other races.

Allyson M. Poska is Professor in the University of Mary Washington (formerly Mary Washington College), Fredericksburg, VA. She published Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. Coedited with Katherine McIver and Jane Couchman (in progress) ; Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain: The Peasants of Galicia, Oxford University Press, 2005 (Winner of the 2006 Roland H. Bainton Prize for best book in early modern history or theology) ; Women and Gender in the Western Past. Coauthored with Katherine French, Houghton Mifflin (now Cengage), June 2006 ; Regulating the People: The Catholic Reformation in Seventeenth-Century Spain, Leiden: E. J. Brill Academic Press, 1998.

Beyond the “civilising mission” female European agendas in the Middle East in the nineteenth century

Much useful insight into the gendered operations of colonialism has emerged from the study of women’s involvement as missionaries, teachers, reformers, and health specialists in colonial settings, and from wider cultural analyses of links between gendered ideas of domesticity and moral improvement and colonial agendas. However this reading of colonial histories also raises conceptual and ideological challenges. Does it confirm rather than critique conventional nineteenth century assumptions about “woman’s mission”, thereby marginalising or obscuring other aspects of women’s involvement in colonial settings?  Does it ignore European women’s use of colonial space and colonial privilege to resist dominant gender conventions?  Does it allow historians to explore tensions or inconsistencies within the gendered practices of colonial governance, culture and ideology?  This paper will explore these questions through a comparative analysis of texts produced by a number of French and English women involved in Egypt between the 1850s and the 1920s when European involvement there moved from commercial, cultural and diplomatic contact to the consolidation of colonial occupation. It will examine their interests in travel, archaeology, and local custom as well as their interests in anti-slavery, education, and health care, and suggest that “civilising” and moral agendas could co-habit with an appetite for the exotic, and with ambitions to establish “expert” or “insider” knowledge, or personal agency. It will consider whether in addition to ‘improving’ or “interpreting” colonial subjects, women’s agendas might include desires for pleasure and power, which fit neither nineteenth century expectations, nor some of the assumptions in the historiography of gender and empire. This discussion will thereby contribute to a sharper and more nuanced understanding of the conflicted character of European women’s involvement in colonialism in the Middle East.

Joanna de Groot is Senior Lecturer in History, University of York. Author of Imperialism and history writing in Britain 1750-2010, Manchester UP, forthcoming ; « War empire and the ‘other’: Iranian-European contacts in the ‘revolutionary’ and ‘Napoleonic’ eras » in R. Bessel, N. Guyatt and J. Rendall (eds.), War, empire and slavery in the revolutionary and Napoleonic era, Palgrave 2010 ; ‘Removing peoples; some comparative reflections’ in R. Bessel and C. Haake (eds), Removing peoples, Oxford UP, 2009 ; Religion, culture, and politics in Iran: from the Qajars to Khomeini, I. B. Tauris, 2007 ; ‘Metropolitan desires and colonial connections: consumption and empire 1750-1950’ in C. Hall and S. Rose (eds.), At home with the empire, Cambridge UP, 2006 ; ‘Oriental feminotopias? Montagu’s and Montesquieu’s « seraglios » revisited’, Gender and History, 2006 ; « Brothers of the Iranian race »: manhood, nationhood and modernity in Iran 1870-1914′ in S. Dudink, K. Hagemann, and J. Tosh (eds.), Masculinity in politics and war, Manchester UP, 2004, ‘ »Sex » and « race »: the construction of language and image in the nineteenth century’ in C. Hall (ed.), Cultures of empire, Manchester UP, 2000.

“Who is able to describe the feelings?” Travelling nuns in colonial contexts, 1896-1918

My paper proposal discusses the Servants of the Holy Spirits and their travels to their fields of work missionary in the German colonial empire between 1896 and 1918. Founded in 1889, the Holy Spirit congregation was one of the first German women congregations explicitly dedicated to missionary work. Moving to their mission fields in colonial Togo and New Guinea, these women missionaries regularly wrote to the congregation’s “motherhouse” in Europe. Departing from the analysis of the traveler’s correspondence with Europe, I explore the effects of the steamship passage on individual and collective identities and address the issue of mobility in the context of gender, religion and colonialism. My theoretical approach to the passage follows recent scholarship in the cultural sciences that has historicized the sea (Klein and Mackenthun, 2003). Thinking of the steamship passage to the colonies as the nuns’ first immediate experience with masculine-dominated (secular and Protestant) colonial orders and social hierarchies, I explore the shifting construction and intersection of the categories of gender and race/ethnicity in their identity formation. Travelling nuns in colonial settings found themselves being part of both, a subordinated (and relatively powerless) group of women and a privileged group of “white” Westerners. I will argue that the experience of “travelling across empire for religious reasons” provoked observable shifts in the nuns’ identities. They redefined their own position as Catholic women missionaries, whereby intersecting aspects of religion, gender and race played the most prominent roles. Mobility, as the missionary’s essential emblem, became the colonizers’ privilege, while the indigenous culture was constructed as immobile, static, suffering and receiving. Ultimately, I will suggest that the travel writers claimed a particular part as exemplary women and exceptional believers in these peculiar narratives of a colonial modernity they constructed.

Katharina Stornig is Fellow in Residence in The Institute of European History (Mainz, Germany). Publications : “The Vice of fornications seems innate to them.’ Bodies, sexuality and conversion”, in Calvi Giulia and Fadil Nadja (eds) The Politics of Diversity. Sexual and religious self-fashioning in contemporary and historical contexts, EUI Working Paper Series, Florence, 2011 ; and “Sister Agnes was to go to Ghana in Africa!’ Catholic nuns and migration” in Glenda Tibe Bonifacio (ed.) Feminism and Migration. Cross-cultural Engagements, Springer, 2012.

Un réseau féministe colonial et des voyageuses françaises à Dakar, Saïgon et Paris pendant l’entre-deux-guerres

Une femme pouvait-elle être féministe et colonisatrice en même temps ? Comment faisait-elle pour réconcilier ces deux idéologies, parfois en conflit ? Et dans un espace colonial urbain, comment faisait-elle pour maintenir ses attaches avec d’autres féministes, métropolitaines ou coloniales ? Pour répondre à ces questions, cette communication reconstituera un réseau parmi d’autres : celui des femmes voyageuses qui se donnaient comme but de rapporter aux femmes coloniales, ainsi qu’aux femmes métropolitaines, un aperçu du rôle des femmes en situation coloniale. Pour mettre en avant la voix de ces femmes, telles que Andrée Viollis et Camille Drevet pour l’Indochine, ou Lucie Cousturier et Denise Moran Savineau pour l’AOF, j’analyserai leurs publications (journalistiques ainsi que littéraires) en les comparant à des sources officielles (surtout la surveillance opérée par la Sûreté Générale locale indochinoise ou africaine, et par le Ministère des Colonies), pour mieux comprendre comment leurs déplacements et leurs publications ont renforcé un réseau de femmes françaises tentant de déchiffrer leur rôle par rapport à la mission civilisatrice de la Troisième République. Par ailleurs, en analysant leur présence dans des publications féministes telles que La Française, une publication diffusée à travers l’Empire, nous pourrons mieux évaluer comment les femmes françaises en métropole et à l’étranger ont noué et gardé le contact avec leurs compatriotes féministes, et donc avec leurs idéologies. Cette analyse présentera une partie des mes recherches actuelles, qui aboutiront à un livre comparatif sur les féministes colonisatrices en Indochine et en AOF. Cette communication étudiera donc, entre autres, certaines questions méthodologiques : en particulier, comment la juxtaposition de sources de types différents permet de corriger la vision à dominante masculine des femmes qui voyageaient dans l’empire français, tout en leur donnant une voix propre à travers leurs écrits. En focalisant l’étude sur des emplacements précis, notamment Dakar, Saigon (aujourd’hui Ho Chi Minh Ville) et Paris, nous visons à mieux saisir comment ces espaces influencent le féminisme et la vision colonisatrice des femmes y habitant. Donc, nous considérerons les liens entre l’histoire locale et l’histoire globale des femmes, ainsi que l’utilité de l’étude d’un ou de plusieurs réseau(x) dans l’analyse d’un ensemble aussi vaste que l’empire français.

Jennifer Boittin est Assistant Professor of French, Francophone Studies and History à The Pennsylvania State University. Elle est née avec une double nationalité, française et américaine et, après des études secondaires en France, elle a reçu un AB de Princeton University, avec mention, puis un MA, MPhil et finalement, en 2005, un PhD de Yale University. Elle a aussi étudié un an à l’Ecole Normale Supérieure, en tant que pensionnaire « étrangère ». Depuis 2005, elle enseigne la civilisation française et l’histoire à Penn State. En 2010, elle a publié son premier livre : Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-Imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris  (University of Nebraska Press). Depuis peu, elle a débuté des recherches à Dakar, Angers, Aix-en- Provence et Paris pour son deuxième livre, une étude comparative des féministes et colonisatrices françaises en Indochine et AOF. Un premier article lié à cette problématique, intitulé « Feminist Mediations of the Exotic: French Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, 1921-1939 » a été publié en avril 2010 par Gender & History. Elle vient aussi d’éditer un volume spécial de la revue French Historical Studies avec le Professeur Tyler Stovall (Berkeley University) sur le thème des intersections entre les questions de race et de genre dans l’histoire française.

Race, genre et nation : les musulman-e-s d’Algérie dans la politique du travail pour l’occupant allemand (1940-1944)

L’objet de ma communication est l’étude des politiques concernant les femmes d’Algérie parties travailler en Allemagne pendant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Dans la France occupée, le transfert de main-d’œuvre pour l’économie de guerre allemande reposa en partie sur le recrutement de travailleur-se-s que les historien-ne-s appellent parfois « volontaires ». Ainsi, avec l’accord du gouvernement de Vichy, entre cinquante et cent mille femmes partirent pour travailler en Allemagne entre 1940 et 1944. Parmi elles, on comptait des femmes d’Algérie, colonisées et colonisatrices. Le discours du 22 juin 1942 dans lequel le Maréchal Pétain appelait les travailleurs à la Relève, fut suivi en Algérie d’une vague massive d’inscriptions de candidats. Cependant, les discussions croisées entre les autorités coloniales, le gouvernement de Vichy et l’occupant aboutirent à limiter strictement les possibilités d’embauche. On recruta pour le travail en Allemagne des colonisateurs, des colonisatrices et des colonisés, mais les colonisées furent exclues de l’embauche. Parallèlement, en métropole, des travailleurs hommes et femmes étaient embauchés pour l’Allemagne depuis l’été 1940 sans limite de genre ou de statut colonial. Des femmes colonisées furent donc recrutées. J’évoquerai les caractéristiques sociales, le parcours de ces femmes d’Algérie – colonisatrices recrutées en Algérie et colonisées recrutées en métropole – et les politiques les concernant, du départ au rapatriement en 1945 et à l’immédiat après-guerre. À partir de cet exemple, il s’agit de saisir comment le genre des politiques de travail pour l’occupant fut déterminé par le rapport colonial. Les sources sur lesquelles je m’appuie sont : des dossiers de travailleur-se-s au Bureau des Archives du Monde Combattant (Service Historique de la Défense) ; des archives des administrations coloniales au CAOM ; les listes des travailleurs partis d’Algérie aux archives départementales de Marseille ; les archives du procès du gouverneur Châtel au CARAN ; éventuellement les archives du consulat allemand à Alger.

Camille Fauroux est agrégée d’histoire, allocataire de l’Institut Émilie du Châtelet, et doctorante au Centre de Recherches Historiques (EHESS) où elle travaille sous la direction de Laura Lee Downs à une thèse intitulée « Les travailleuses civiles de France : politiques, expériences, représentations (1940-1958) ».

From Household to School Room: Women, Networks, and Education in North Africa, c. 1880-present

Cette intervenante n’a malheureusement pas pu venir au colloque.

One of the paradoxes of decolonization and end of empire was an increase in the number of students from colonies or former colonies to Metropoles in search of an education. Of course the movement of students from the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean to Europe represented an older phenomenon dating back to the state-driven modernization projects of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. However, the participants in these earlier transnational state-sponsored educational programs were all male and generally from elite families in Egypt or Istanbul. During the last years of French Algeria, a select few Arab or Berber Algerian students studied in Paris as did more restricted number of Tunisians and Moroccans. At the heart of the empire, they engaged in anti-colonial activities in solidarity with the much more numerous Maghribi industrial laborers. However, the presence of female students from the Maghrib in French universities in this period has scarcely been acknowledged, although their stories, replete with contradictions, illuminate significant gendered and other historical processes that have remained semi-concealed until now. What political, social, and cultural transformations on both sides of the Mediterranean explain this shift? My paper employs a biographical approach to the problem of gendered educational migration during the tumultuous moments of rupture as France’s North African empire crumbled. I employ the life stories of women, such as the Tunisian nationalist, Dorra Bouzid (born 1933) whose mother insisted that she study in France in “order to become an independent woman.” In 1951, Bouzid enrolled in the School of Pharmacy in Paris, which then only had a handful of North African women students. There she became involved in oppositional politics combining syndicalism and demands for independence. Bouzid helped to organize a student newspaper in Paris and create an association for North African students. Thus paradoxically, the idea of the “Greater Maghrib,” made up of independent national states but united in purpose, came to be first enunciated by students, male and female, in Paris. I conclude by considering why and how the male-dominated nationalist narrative has erased much of this history.

Julia Clancy-Smith (PhD, UCLA, 1988) is Professor of History at the University of Arizona. Her work has focused on colonialism/comparative empires, migration, women/gender, and education in North Africa and the Middle East. She published Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters (Algeria and Tunisia, 1800-1904) (1994) ; Mediterraneans:  North Africa, Europe, and the Ottoman Empire in an Age of  Migrations, 1800-1900 (University of California Press, 2010) ; Exemplary Women and Sacred Journeys: Women and Gender in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (AHA Series in Women, Gender, and Global History, 2006). In addition to numerous articles, chapters, and reviews, Clancy-Smith edited North Africa, Islam, and the Mediterranean World (2001). She is currently editing A History of the Maghrib (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and has co-edited the following volumes: Domesticating the Empire: Gender, Race, & Family Life in the Dutch and French Empires (1998); Writing French Colonial Histories, special issue French Historical Studies (2004); and The Walls of Algiers: Image and Text in the Making of the City (Los Angeles/Seattle: Getty Research Institute & University of Washington Press, 2009). She is co-authoring The Modern Middle East & North Africa: A History in Documents (Oxford University Press, 2011). She is currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study working on book that traces education and schooling in North Africa from the pre-colonial era to independence within the larger framework of world/comparative history and women/gender theory.