Catia Papa

Universal histories of family: women and nation between Italy and the «Near East»

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Women; Family; Nation; Connected Histories.

This essay investigates the relationship between national imagination and feminist cultures in the age of expansion of European colonial hegemony. The first part addresses the gender structure of Western narratives of progress in their articulation in as many national contexts. The aim is to clarify the investment in women by national identity projects, an investment that, with all its ambivalences, contributed to the emergence of Western feminisms and was to be the mark of nationalism on a global scale. The analysis then focuses on Italian feminist circles between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, committed like the others to taking on an idea of progress ultimately legitimated by the consensually subordinate figure of the mother and godmother of the family/nation. The histories and chronicles of the family in the world thus lend themselves to a feminist rereading of civilization tending to value women as active and essential subjects of all effective national developments. The critique of Western patriarchal archaisms was fostered by Orientalist stereotypes, but at the same time proposed itself as a field for an encounter with the first feminist groups born on the margins of or within the colonial empires, and particularly with nascent Egyptian feminism, which in turn was beginning to rethink the traditions of the Arab and Muslim world and those of the Egyptian people. It is an example of histories connected under the normative banner of nationalism - both homologating and conflicting - in the age of imperialism.

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