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Women and Rulership

ITW Women and RulershipGender-related configurations of power and domination are of great interest for the CRC 1167: We understand 'gender' as a modern category of analysis that is intended to analyse historically changeable social and cultural power relations from a very specific but elementary perspective. From a methodological point of view, it is important to  identify differences and similarities in the attribution of [gender] roles between today’s ‘modern’ and the ‘premodern’ social and cultural contexts, and to question supposedly fixed narratives in consequence.

The ITW "Women and Rulership" has set itself the goal of relating the activities undertaken in the various sub-projects to women’s exercise of and participation in power. Although research has increasingly been looking at this from very different disciplinary perspectives since the last quarter of the 20th century, a transcultural comparison as an approach to this phenomenon seems to be almost untested. While European medieval studies is particularly concerned with female agency, in the sense of possibilities and actual abilities to act, it seemed necessary, especially from a transcultural perspective, to ask more fundamental questions concerning the representation and perception of women in the environment of the ruler.

Plakat_Tagung_Geschlecht macht HerrschaftDuring the working process of the ITW, it soon became clear that, in addition to the question of women's participation in power and domination, the view should also be extended to the phenomenon of women as rulers and how they are represented and imagined in premodern texts and images. The boundaries between these manifestations must be described as fluid (this becomes particularly obvious in the phenomenon of regency, for example).

In this respect, the ITW now asks in a second step to what extent something like specifically 'female domination' or 'female rulership' can be determined. The ITW has also led to a gender reading group which discusses classics of gender research in regular meetings and seeks to make them fruitful for its own research by relating their theses to case studies from the sub-projects.

More on this topic: Gender-specific roles were also the subject of the lecture series "Geschlechterdimensionen von Macht und Herrschaft" (winter semester 2018/2019) and the conference "Geschlecht macht Herrschaft/Gender Powers Sovereignty" (30.09.-02.10.2019). The results of both events are currently being prepared for print and will be published in the CRC publication series "Macht und Herrschaft".

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