Category: Gender History

Humanitas Visiting Professor in Women’s Rights 2011

Professor Nancy Fraser (Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics, The New School for Social Research, New York)

Lecture 1: ‘A Polanyian Feminism? Re-reading The Great Transformation in the 21st Century’ (5-6.30pm, 8 March 2011)

Karl Polanyi’s 1944 book ‘The Great Transformation’ rejected economism and instead analysed the previous crisis of capitalism as a crisis of social reproduction. He traced the roots of crisi…s to what he called the “fictitious commodification” of labour, land and money and diagnosed the tendency of a “free market society” to undermine the shared understandings that underpin social life. In his view, 19th-century efforts to create such a society proved so destructive of livelihoods, communities, and habitats as to trigger a century-long struggle between free-marketeers and those who sought to protect society from the ravages of the market. The end result of this “double movement” (marketisation versus social protection) was economic depression, political stalemate, and world war.

In the first lecture, Professor Nancy Fraser will reread ‘The Great Transformation’ from a feminist perspective, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of its signature concepts. Although it was developed for an earlier era, Polanyi’s diagnosis is, Professor Nancy Fraser will argue, highly relevant today as today’s crisis is not merely economic but also encompasses social reproduction and thus can be fruitfully analysed as a “great transformation,” in which a new round of efforts to commodify nature, labour, and money is sparking a new round of struggles. The following lectures and symposium will build upon this to create a Polanyian-feminist framework for theorising capitalist crisis in the 21st century.

Further lectures in the series are:

‘The Wages of Care: Reproductive Labour as Fictitious Commodity’
Wednesday, 9 Mar 2011

‘Between Marketisation and Social Protection: Ambivalences of Feminism in the Context of Capitalist Crisis’
Wednesday, 16 Mar 2011

A symposium will take place on Thursday 17 March.

For more information, please see http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/1534/.

Walk Straight

Watch the way you walk, my boy
And straighten up your style.
A feeble posture may well foster
Talk about you child.

First of all you drop that smile
The muscles of your cheeks fall down;
You will not convince anyone
Unless you wear a frown. Continue reading

Gender History: A Withered, Bloody Pulp?

These are dark days for gender history. We’re on a cliff edge. Either we jump back into the increasingly choppy sea of post-structuralism, or we hot-foot it back to the safety of sexual difference. You know times are rough when Joan Scott, the alma mater of gender as a ‘useful category of historical analysis’, is saying she hardly ever even uses the word anymore, and would much rather focus on how men and women have operated within distinct sexual spheres. Yes, and the evolutionary psychologists cackle with glee.

Continue reading

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