Gender: A Useful Category Of Historical Analysis, By Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

1169 Words 5 Pages
Historians using gender as a categorical tool of historical analysis have won prizes from Organization of American Historians and American Historical Association such as Joan Scott and Kathleen Brown. In 1986, Joan Wallach Scott published her groundbreaking article, Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” In this article, Scott asserts that gender had not been previously used a conceptual framework like race and class and should be used by historians to examine their subjects. Scott’s article is a part of a larger study of gender published in her book, Gender and the Politics of History. This book rallies historians to break away from biologically constructed notions of what it means to be male and female and what their sex-roles …show more content…
She responded by calling for scholars to bring race into their work. In Higginbotham’s “African American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race,” she argues that race is both a “decentered complex of social meanings constantly being transformed by political struggle” and a “metalanguage” that is powerful, all-encompassing effect on the construction and representation of other social and power relations.” By incorporating the intersectionality of race and gender into historical analysis directly challenges the notion that women are are monolithic group and further pushes back against the assumption that women of the same race have the same experiences. Disrupting the categories of race and gender makes analytical tools such as class more visible and thus further complicating how gender is treated within the field. As race, class, and gender are all taken into consideration, a clearer albeit complicated picture of American history and in the instance of this paper, a sharper image of southern women in colonial …show more content…
Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs investigates how gender, more specifically women, and race were crucial to the social, political, and legal order in colonial Virginia. She relies upon tax rolls, deeds, county court records, government documents, narrative histories of the colony by its early occupants, court minutes, newspapers, statutes, wills, and inventories to challenge previous notions regarding gender, race, and social order in the colony. Through her examination of what she calls the “gender frontier,” Brown attempts to explain how Indians, enslaved Africans, and anxious patriarchs or white colonizers each negotiated the roles (gender and work) and rights of women in early Virginia. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs is also a response and challenge to the works of Winthrop Jordan, Edmund Morgan, Rhys Isaac, and many others. Since this is a gender analysis, brown also investigates male roles and masculinity alongside female roles and femininity to bring forth a thorough examination of gender that demonstrates the strong link between gender relations and the development of slavery and political authority in colonial Virginia prior to

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