Repoliticizing Women and their Pasts: A Reconsideration of the Position of Women in the History of the Netherlands (1795 – 1950)
Smit, Noor de
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In this thesis I reconstruct a section of the history of women’s emancipatory activities in the Netherlands from 1795 until the 1930s. This reconstruction serves a dual purpose: firstly, to affirm that the current ‘wave-analogy,’ which has been widely used and criticized in feminist history, is indeed inadequate. This is the case because, as my thesis shows, a tide-like increase and decrease of emancipatory activity by women is demonstrably false — rather the socio-political climate largely determines whether this activity becomes situated at the forefront of the public sphere/stage. On top of that, the identification of any sort of starting point in history for feminism —or ‘First Wave’— is a teleological fallacy. I demonstrate this through a content analysis and socio-political contextualization of a wide variety of primary sources which range from anywhere between public speeches, anonymous pamphlets and novels. I find that women have been structurally excluded from political history both as subjects and authors and have been forced into an isolationist position in the historical discipline. This connects to the second goal of this thesis, which is to propose a revaluation of the current narrative of feminist history and the wealth of existing historical material surrounding it to integrate it into a general narrative of Dutch political history. As opposed to the isolationist and discredited position wherein political activity by women has been pushed solely based on gender instead of an individual’s political actions.