Legacies of Feminism in Germany and India

A Roundtable Discussion
19 March 2021 (1 pm GMT/ 2 pm CET/ 6:30 pm IST)

This was an online event organised by the Max Weber Stiftung India Branch Office and the International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment at the German Historical Institute London.

Postcolonial feminists and feminists of colour have long sought to complicate the history and study of feminism. Social scientists and feminist theorists like Chandra Mohanty, Kumari Jayawardena and Kimberlé Crenshaw have drawn attention to the simultaneity and intersecting nature of oppression and marginalization. They show that women’s inequality is deeply entangled with other forms of oppression and structures of power, including colonialism, capitalism, racism, homophobia and ableism. By drawing attention to the differences between women, they challenge a homogeneous definition of womanhood, instead showing how categories like race and sexuality have produced different experiences of gendered marginalization. In turn, they contest a vision of feminism based on supposedly universal emancipatory politics. In place of broad, universalizing categories that stem from the experiences of white, western women, these scholars reveal the manifold meanings of feminism and women’s emancipation across time and space, and highlight the importance of situating feminist movements and interventions within their specific historical and geographic contexts.

Building on this scholarship, this roundtable evaluated the historical legacies of feminist activism in two very different contexts: Germany and India. By bringing together the diverse trajectories of women’s rights activism in India and Germany, the roundtable sought to critically examine the meaning and history of feminism. What different kinds of periodization do we find if we move away from the Western-centred genealogy of feminist waves? How has the meaning of feminism changed across different political, social and historical contexts? How has women’s activism in the past shaped how we think about feminism and women’s rights today? And how has feminist activism intersected with other rights-based movements and issues, including decolonization, race and ethnicity, labour, LGBTQ rights, the rights of children and disability?

Featuring scholars from India, Germany and the UK, the panel asked what the historically and geographically diverse legacies of feminism mean for the shared political project of women’s rights today and how have feminists negotiated the push and pull of political change?

Speakers:
Helma Lutz
, Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Janaki Nair, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Samita Sen, University of Cambridge
Paula-Irene Villa, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

The International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment is part of the international project “Knowledge Unbound: Internationalisation, Networking, Innovation in and by the Max Weber Stiftung.” It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 


Winter School: Making and Un-Making Worlds of Coercion and Confinement

 

 

 

Max Weber Stiftung (India Branch Office) and Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
17-21 January 2022

The Max Weber Stiftung (MWS), India Branch Office serves as a bridge between German, Indian, and international scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. One of its main emphases is on the study of South Asian and transregional histories. The winter schools of the India Branch Office bring together graduate students and experienced scholars within an informal and lively environment aimed at exploring the worlds of South Asian societies and cultures in history and in the present, and using the experience of this exploration as a starting point for new ventures and departures in scholarly discourse.

The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS) is a research cluster within the framework of the Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments of Germany. It aims to overcome the binary opposition of “slavery versus freedom” by means of inter-disciplinary research focused on the concept of “asymmetrical dependency.”

The Winter School “Making and Un-Making Worlds of Coercion and Confinement”, organized by the Max Weber Stiftung – India Branch Office and the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, seeks to investigate how, across historical contexts, various forms of coercion and confinement were shaped and contested by multiple actors. In particular, it addresses three main themes:

Theme 1 – The spatiality of coercion – looks at the ways coercion was created at the crossroads of (forced or voluntary) spatial mobility and immobilization. The goal is to assess the interactions between coercion in specific sites (including worksites and sites of confinement) and dynamics of coercion in the social context at large. At the same time, we seek to understand the dialectics between mobility and immobilization as strategies of coercing, or as practices and strategies to enhance autonomy.

 Theme 2 – Navigating coercion, constructing autonomy – takes the perspective of the coerced and looks into the practices and strategies by which they– individually and collectively – tried to minimize the impact of coercion, and expand their spaces of autonomy within and outside the specific sites of coercion.

Theme 3 – Intermediaries and labour coercion – foregrounds the role of intermediaries who were themselves coerced, in the production and reproduction of labour coercion. The concept of “intermediaries” is understood here in a broader sense, comprising all subjected people who acted as intermediaries in the process of recruitment, extraction of labour, or as enforcers of discipline; for example as overseers of work, guards in specific settings (plantations, manufactures, prisons, camps amongst others), being part of an inmate or labouring population.

The organizers are:
Michaela Dimmers, M.A., Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen, Germany, michaela.dimmers@cemis.uni-goettingen.de

Dr. Christian G. De Vito, Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, Bonn, Germany, cdevito@uni-bonn.de

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which could result in travel and assembly restrictions, the dates are subject to change. We strongly recommend Covid-19 vaccinations and other vaccinations necessary for all accepted participants.