Science curieuse des Bohémiens et des Tsiganes face à l’Europe savante (La)

Frontispice de l’Art de connoistre les hommes, de Marin Cureau de La Chambre. Le médecin du roi, au milieu de ses instruments et de ses livres représente la pratique savante de la physiognomonie qui relègue la diseuse de bonne aventure, dans la rue en habit folklorique, à un arrière-plan marginal.

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L’identité flottante des Tsiganes se construit peu à peu, à partir de leur arrivée en Europe occidentale au xve siècle. Malgré une fascination certaine, ils sont considérés comme des professionnels du nomadisme, du vol, du vagabondage et de la tromperie, au point qu’un arsenal législatif de plus en plus répressif est mis en place pour disloquer leurs groupes. La figure de la diseuse de bonne aventure incarne en partie les préjugés et les stéréotypes qui ont nourri l’imaginaire européen jusqu’à nos jours à l’égard des Tsiganes. La culture réprouvée de leur science curieuse, la chiromancie, est pourtant assimilée par l’Europe savante. Le succès des traités de physiognomonie et de chiromancie s’inspire du « savoir égyptien » apporté par les Tsiganes en Europe. À la science curieuse, populaire et orale de la chiromancie des Bohémiennes, s’oppose la chiromancie savante des lettrés. En ce sens, la culture tsigane influence et intègre la culture de l’Europe savante.

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Women, gender and exile in Europe during the modern period

Spanish refugees at the Cerbère frontier post, January 1939.

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During the modern period, exiles were for a long time essentially masculine figures in representations. Yet the study of forced migration, whether of a political, religious, or sexual nature, shows that from the early nineteenth century onwards, women were also part of the phenomenon of exile, which we understand here in a broad manner as all forms of forced expatriation. While feminine exile figures were rare during the nineteenth century, the widespread nature of such mobility beginning in the early twentieth century also involved women, who little by little demanded access to functions of representation within exile groups, thereby upsetting the gendered norms of political commitment. After the adoption of the Geneva Convention in 1951, the first legal text to provide an international definition for refugees, women won recognition for their particular role in the phenomenon of exile and asylum. It was only in 1985 that the High Commissioner for Refugees held the first forum on women refugees, thereby emphasizing their uniqueness.

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Women Letter Writers and the Construction of a European Space

By choosing the epistolary genre, Mme de Staël (1766-1817) expressed her attachment to this form of expression, which allowed her to disseminate her thought across Europe even while in exile

As a result of the expansion of space and acceleration of time that followed the upheavals of the French Revolution, and seized by the mobility and modernity of the moment, women flouted an epistolary medium that had largely been limited to the domestic sphere, and transformed their correspondence into a networking of the new European space. They transgressed both borders and gender differences, and mapped out a new cartography of the continent in which they had a role and visibility. They also built a constellation of epistolary exchanges, which they sometimes used to convey public opinion on the European scale. A transformation took place during the nineteenth century, as the epistolary medium became a public form of writing in publications that were specifically epistolary in character—Briefroman, letter novels, fictional correspondence, open letters—and that signaled women’s initial entry into the political sphere.

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Women of science

Marie Curie's success inspire other women to study science, on this picture the great scientist is surrounded by 4 students (between 1910-1915).

In the nineteenth century, women in Europe were still practically excluded from the world of science and technical fields in the name of their supposed natural inferiority. Only a few female intellectuals from the enlightened aristocracy contributed to progress and participated in scientific debates, with women occupying subordinate posts, and technical ones in particular. In the late nineteenth century, most European countries democratized access to education, sparking a de facto rise in the number of female students and researchers, despite sexist bias and even the denial of their discoveries. These pioneering women made a dent in this masculine world and were recognized for doing so, although they were awarded Nobel prizes sparingly. Since the mid-twentieth century, new generations of women scientists have proposed research issues ranging from pediatrics and neuroscience to food and the environment. Such female scientists nevertheless remain symbolic still today, being seen as exceptions rather than models.

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International Women’s Peace Movements

Platform at the International Congress of Women at The Hague, April 1915. Sixth person from the left side: Jane Addams (President of the Congress), LSE Library.
 “Women of Europe in Action for Peace” Conference, organized by Women's International League for Peace and Freedom ; WILPF), on November, the 27th 1981 at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, Nationaal Archief Source: Wikimedia Commons https://goo.gl/BpPkZG

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International women’s peace movements took on different forms: in the 19th century, internationally minded women pacifists often initially built contacts between two or three countries. In the first half of the 20th century, international organisational structures were established. Moreover, some existing international women’s organisations turned towards peace work in the mid-1920s and 1930s. After 1945, European women’s peace work was confronted with new political constellations and global perspectives. Campaigning against the arms race led to new activities which were less formally organised but influenced female pacifism in many countries. In feminist pacifist discourse, peace was always linked to other topics which were seen as reciprocal, influential and highly important for future peacekeeping, such as women’s rights, democracy, nutrition and socioeconomic contexts, education or environmentalism.

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Transidentities: the History of a Category

Transgender symbol

The term transidentities, which appeared in Germany in the early twentieth century, refers to a series of practices for identifying with a gender different from the one assigned at birth. The definition of transidentities is located at the intersection of medical discourse, legal dictates, and social practices.  Medical and surgical progress since the first third of the twentieth century have made sex change possible, which depending on the country can include a therapeutic dimension and be accompanied by a change in civil status. Transidentities became more visible beginning in the 1960s, doing so at different paces according to the national political context. Medical and legal measures were adopted to take into account the demands made by “trans,” often under pressure from new international norms. Associations were created in the 1990s and Europeanized in order to depsychiatrize transidentity, and found an ally in the European Court of Human Rights for changing national legislation.

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Birth of Humanist Historiography

Leonardo Bruni. History of the Florentine people. The University of Sydney.

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This entry focuses on a particularly significant moment in the history of historical writing in Europe. It posits that Renaissance humanism—an intellectual movement whose development can plausibly be located in early fifteenth-century Italy—gave birth to radically new ways of conceptualizing and representing the past. To some extent the changes were the result of a deeper engagement with the ancient Greek and Roman historians that the humanists took as their models. But the renewed interest in the classics was itself often embraced as a means of rising to the challenges posed by the need to interpret a rapidly changing political landscape. By way of illustration, this entry zeroes in on the work that can be seen as the foundation stone of humanist historiography: Leonardo Bruni’s History of the Florentine People. Bruni’s History is presented as the first stage in a general renewal of historical writing, one that moves outwards from Renaissance Florence to pervade Italy and eventually Europe as a whole.

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Gender, Nationality and Naturalization

Declaration in view of requesting a husband’s French nationality (front), 1939.  (Individual files for naturalization requests by marriage created according to the law decree of November 12, 1938, 6 M 1287, file 318/24 DX40).

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Nationality, which was born with the emergence of nation states, is a legal connection between an individual and a state. While nationals formed a homogeneous group, the rights and obligations relating to citizenship differed notably according to gender. The same was true of the transmission, acquisition, or conservation of nationality. This discrimination, which affected wives in particular, prompted protests by feminist groups from the early twentieth century onwards, who overcame resistance to ensure equal rights to nationality in many countries. In practice, gender has also had an influence on the granting of nationality.

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Gender of the counter-revolution during the nineteenth century

Bordalo Pinheiro, « Revolta da Maria da Fonte » (gravure), dans A Ilustração, 1846, v. II, p. 71.Bordalo Pinheiro, “Revolta da Maria da Fonte” (engraving), in A Ilustração, 1846, v. II, p. 71.

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The role of women in the counter-revolution during the nineteenth century is unexpected in light of the gendered conception of social relations supported by this political family. It defended a society inspired by the Ancien Régime, one that was based on Catholicism and monarchy, as well as traditionalist social frameworks and the upholding of a patriarchal model. Aside from their importance on a symbolic level through dynastic, religious, or national incarnations, counter-revolutionary women enjoyed a fairly large freedom of action that appeared in various domains. While a number of these activities fell within the domains to which women were traditionally confined—the family, care activities, etc.—they also intervened in multiple ways on the political scene by taking up arms, or through petitions or fundraising. In the end, the counter-revolution paradoxically provided women with the capacity to act, with its traces visible during the twentieth century in the conservative and Catholic movements that were the heirs to the counter-revolution.

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Contrôle des naissances en Europe du XIXe au XXIe siècle

Thermomètre pour déterminer les jours de fécondité et d’infécondité du cycle menstruel, vers 1950
August Haidjuk, « Toujours plus et toujours moins », Ulk, 41e année, no 24, 14/06/1912, Berlin.

Alors que domine jusqu’au xviiie siècle en Europe l’idée qu’il faut accepter stoïquement toute grossesse, le contrôle des naissances se généralise à partir du xixe siècle et devient progressivement une pratique répandue, en dépit de l’opposition de l’Église et des responsables politiques. Celui-ci apparaît en effet comme un moyen d’ascension sociale, puis, à partir des années 1960, de manière croissante, comme un instrument de liberté. Les politiques, après avoir longtemps condamné cette évolution, finissent par s’y adapter, y contribuant par la libéralisation de la contraception. Néanmoins, les gouvernements restent encore divisés en Europe, en particulier sur la question de l’avortement.

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