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Gender and Sexualities (Howard Chiang)

This seminar introduces gender and sexuality as analytic categories in the study of global history. The history of the inter-connectedness (or divergences) of the different parts of the modern world tends to be understood through the lens of ‘high politics’, such as on the topics of war, diplomacy, political economy, international relations, social movements, and colonialism and imperialism. By contrast, this week we will approach global history from the angle of gender and sexuality, a theme that tends to be relegated to the private/intimate sphere and thus was not considered worthy of serious investigation by historians until the 1960s. We will focus our discussion on theories and examples of where gender and global histories intersect.


  1. Are gender, sexuality, and the body useful categories of analysis in the study of non-Western and pre-modern contexts?
  2. When did historians start paying serious attention to ‘gender’ and ‘the global’? Have these been mutually exclusive or mutually imbricated historiographies?
  3. In what ways can agency and resistance be theorised in the history of Chinese footbinding, Congolese rape, Brazilian homoeroticism, and Middle Eastern sexuality?



Merry Weisner-Hanks, 'World History and the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality', Journal of World History 18, no. 1 (2007): 53-67.

Dorothy Ko, ‘The Body as Attire: Shifting Meanings of Footbinding in Seventeenth-Century China’, Journal of Women’s History 8, no. 4 (1997): 8-27.

Joseph Massad, 'Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World', Public Culture 14, no. 2 (2002): 361-385.

Nancy Rose Hunt, ‘An Acoustic Register, Tenacious Images, and Congolese Scenes of Rape and Repetition’, Cultural Anthropology 23, no. 2 (2008): 220-253.

James N. Green, ‘“Who is the Macho Who Wants to Kill Me?”: Male Homosexuality, Revolutionary Masculinity, and the Brazilian Armed Struggle of the 1960s and 70s’, Hispanic American Historical Review 92, no. 3 (2012): 437-69.

Afsaneh Najmabadi, 'Genus of Sex or the Sexing of JINS', International Journal of Middle East Studies 45 (2013): 211-231.



Gayatry Spivak, ‘Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism’, Critical Inquiry 12 (1985): 243-261.

Joan W. Scott, ‘Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis’, American Historical Review 91, no. 5 (1986): 1053-1075.

Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan, ‘Global Identities: Theorising Transnational Studies of Sexuality’, GLQ 7, no. 4 (2001): 663-679.

Leila J. Rupp, 'Toward a Global History of Same-Sex Sexuality', Journal of the History of Sexuality 10, no. 2 (2001): 287-302.

Afsaneh Najmabadi, 'Beyond the Americas: Are Gender and Sexuality Useful Categories of Analaysis?' Journal of Women's History 18, no. 1 (2006): 11-21.

Sarah Schneewind, ‘Reconsidering Sati in Universal Context’, Journal of World History 18, no. 3 (2007): 353- 368.

Giulia Calvi, ‘Gobal Trends: Gender Studies in Europe and the U.S.’, European History Quarterly 40 (2010): 641-655.

Ulrike Strasser and Heidi Tinsman, ‘It’s a Man’s World? World History Meets the History of Masculinity, in Latin American Studies, for Instance’, Journal of World History 21, no. 1 (2010): 75-96

Merry Wiesner-Hanks, ‘Crossing borders in transnational gender history’, Journal of Global History 6, no. 3 (2011): 357-379.

Forum on Joan Scott’s ‘Gender’ in American Historical Review 113, no. 5 (December 2008).

Forum on ‘Transnational Sexualities’ in American Historical Review 114, no. 5 (December 2009).

Bonnie G. Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women, and Historical Practice (Harvard University Press, 1998).

Nancy Rose Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Duke University Press, 1999).

Peter N. Stearns, Gender in World History (Routledge, 2005).

Bonnie G. Smith, ed., Women’s History in Global Perspective, 3 volumes (University of Illinois Press, 2005).

Afsaneh Najmabadi, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties in Iranian Modernity (University of California Press, 2005).

Dorothy Ko, Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding (University of California Press, 2005).

Mrinalini Sinha, Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire (Duke University Press, 2006).

Pete Segal, The Flower and the Scorpion: Sexuality and Ritual in Early Nahua Culture (Duke University Press, 2011).

Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Gender in History: Global Perspectives, 2nd ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

Leila J. Rupp, Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women (New York University Press, 2011).