Research of CSR People
Gendering Terror. A Gender History of Left Wing Terrorism in 1970s Switzerland
“Gendering Terror” interrogates the phenomenon of West German and Swiss left wing terrorism from a gender perspective. The author investigates the gendered impact of the West German Red Army Faction and Movement 2nd June as well as smaller Swiss anarchist groups on state policy, laws and legal decisions, prison regulation, mass media, left wing activism, and the terrorists’ themselves in 1970s and 1980s Switzerland. Swiss citizens and state actors experienced the terrorist phenomenon as a loss of state control and power, and as fundamentally challenging the dominant gender order. 1970s struggle against terrorism was thus closely linked to defending a white bourgeois masculinity that had come increasingly under attack since 1968. This explains also why terrorism was combatted on two fronts, in the public sphere by introducing new laws and increasing police surveillance, and in the seemingly private realm, with the media and politicians emphasizing traditional masculine virtues such as freedom of movement, defending the nation and the role of the breadwinner. Against this background Grisard proposes a reconceptualization of terrorism as discourse, namely as a complex configuration of
· gendered everyday understandings of terrorism and political violence,
· the “institutional reflexivity” of gender in prisons, police, parliament and courts,
· gendered political debates and media representations, as well as
· the gendered performance of so called terrorists, male or female.
Hunger Strikes. Bodies in Resistance in 1970s and 1980s European Prisons
In Central Europe, terrorist attacks by communist and anarchist groups were a common occurrence in the 1970s. Many of them existed ‘underground,’ robbing banks and carrying out bombings of symbolic places, and kidnapping high-profile public figures. Arguably some of the most publicized terrorist actions happened in prison. In Switzerland, it was the hunger strikes of Italian-German anarchist Petra Krause that unsettled the Swiss state and its citizens alike. Not only did her prison resistance manage to confound the gendered power relations between the rational, sane body politic and the unsavory, emaciated body of the irrational hunger striker, she also upturned the gendered differentiation between the masculine perpetrator and the feminine victim. Finally, her hunger strikes garnered much attention and support among the radical left and feminists alike. Her body politics thus point to the vulnerability of the citizen-subject, and more importantly to weaknesses of the state. Indeed, imagery of the prisoner's feminized bodies broke out of the confines of the prison to cause more than just a public spectacle.
Female Russian Anarchists and Gender Politics in late 19th and early 20th Century Switzerland
This project investigates the impact of Russian anarchist women on European national identity formation. On the one hand, Russian and particularly Russian women were represented as the Other of Europe. On the other hand, Russian anarchist women managed to “infiltrate” and disrupt the emerging national projects.
Particular emphasis lies on the case of Tatiana Leontieva, a Russian medical student turned terrorist-assassin in Switzerland. The author argues that her undercover “high femme” performance troubled European identity politics in subtle and obvious ways: Her decidedly feminine self-presentation as well as her symbolic sex-change in court and mass media dismantled dominant understandings of both gender and national identity. In this reading, Leontieva’s case effectively ruptured ongoing other processes by defying the European stereotype of the Russian revolutionary woman.
Looking back at the interventions of Russian anarchists in early 20th century Western Europe allows us to think historically about national and gender identity constructions, and about European border policing in a post-9/11 security era. Moreover, revisiting Russian women’s involvement in terrorist circles in late 19th and early 20th century Europe, disrupts the dominant narrative about transnational terrorism, which situates 9/11 as its origin and the United States at its center. It reminds us that there are many other narratives of transnational terrorism that this discourse erases.
Pink. En / Gendering a Color
The first thing to happen to a new-born baby is that it is color coded: pink if it is a girl, blue if it’s a boy. This is just the beginning of an extensive color coded gendering process: At age one, girls might sleep next to a pink stuffed kitten. By the time they are two, they are likely to be engulfed by sparkly pink Disney Princesses, Hello Kitties and Barbies, and in the case of Germany, Austria and Switzerland by the pink empire of Prinzessin Lillifee. The purchase of the first lady shaver in that same color – symbol of a girl’s rite of passage to womanhood? – marks the tentative end to all things pink.
The color pink doesn’t just connote femininity, it also bears traces of American and Britain’s imperial legacy and the postcolonial, antiracist critique it spawned. Artists such as Sonia Boyce politicize the pinkness of white skin and emphasize the entangled colonial history of the cool English beauty ideal commonly referred to as an English Rose. This colonial genealogy takes us back to the Prince of Wales’ 1875 visit to India’s Jaipur, a city painted pink in its entirety, ostensibly to welcome the royal visitor as well as to demonstrate India’s modernity. Tourists were fascinated by the pinkness of the city but commented also on the color’s artificial, frivolous quality. Around the same time the synthetic dye magenta pink was ‚invented’ in chemical laboratories in Central Europe. Not a color of the rainbow itself, magenta became the basis for the industrial production of all colors of the rainbow. The importation of natural colors and dyes from India became virtually obsolete.
Pink is also associated with homosexuality and effeminacy. In Nazi Germany, men suspected of homosexuality were incarcerated in concentration camps and stigmatized by a pink triangle on their jackets. In the 1970s lesbian and gay communities recoded the color pink to symbolize sexual liberation and lesbian and gay identity. Whereas Act Up (the AIDS Coaltion to Unleash Power) used the pink triangle against a black background to add an historical dimension to their slogan 'silence = death' in the late 1980s, the organization and its logo never became a fashion accessory the way the more conciliatory red Aids awareness ribbon did. In the 1990s breast cancer advocacy groups took up the idea of the ribbon to foster awareness for their cause. Today pink ribbon breast cancer culture is ubiquitous. The ribbon graces cereal boxes and the newest BMW model alike. While pink ribbon culture has been decried for its investment in marketing an artificially sweet, happy and caring femininity (among other things), queer and feminist performance activist groups such as the Pink Bloque and Code Pink work with the color’s feminine connotations in more creative and critical ways.
In the vein of a Foucauldian genealogy this project traces specific sites where pink has been linked to sexuality, gender and whiteness in Central European and American history (with a concentration on Germany, the British Empire and the United States). I argue that the modern practice of gendered color coding gives us essential insight into the intricate workings of femininity, sexuality and whiteness. The goal is thus to unpack the socio-historical architecture pink discourses and counter-discourses are built on. To that end, I will closely examine if and how the modern figures of the sexualized child, the homosexual man and the colonial other interrelate. I will also investigate how the sexual, gendered and racial connotations of pink articulate with ruptures and ripples in the history of industrialization, consumption, colonialism and color – from the ‚invention’ of synthetic color in the 1850s to today.
Inasmuch as pink and color in general seem to be so obviously gendered and sexualized, it is more than surprising that Gender and Sexuality Studies as well as Consumer History have been silent about the color of things. This project therefore seeks to open these fields into new directions, and to prompt further reflection on how race, gender, sexuality, class, and age intersect in the modern epoch.
Color Sells? Color in Marketing and Advertising
Special Issue in Journal (in progress)
How do colors re(produce) socio-cultural power relations? How do they contribute to fixing and replicating social, national and economical differences? In what ways do colors either explicitly or implicitly work as mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion? Colors serve to construct, manage, and secure (hierarchized) social relations, be this by color coding gender differences, racially segregating populations, associating beauty with fair skin, using national colors to identify and demarcate the borders of territories and their people, or differentiating social rank by color in sumptuary laws. Colors are also economically powerful – best exemplified by the implementation of colors by the fashion and advertising industries. In the current battle for visual attention colors seem to be a (cost)effective means to circulating codes and emotions. For colors are contagious: They are believed to – consciously or unconsciously – affect multiple senses, invite to play with varied, constantly shifting color semantics, and to unfold their force as a seemingly neutral visual and emotional language. Hence colors’ spheres of influence must be analyzed as both historically-specific effects of meaning systems (e.g. codes) and of emotional habitus (e.g. embodied feelings). In this vein it is the journal issue’s goal to explore the hidden and at the same time highly visible force and power of color in culture and society.
Skin Matters. Gendered and Racial Economies of Skin Color
Special Issue in Journal (in progress)
In what ways does skin color work as difference written on the body? What semantic values are color differentiations laden with in different times and places? How do racialized desires attach to particular skin shades, and do they operate differently in the lives of women, men and those outside the gender binary? Are there cultural contexts where skin color doesn’t or didn’t matter? Taking these questions as its starting point, the symposium is interested in how ‘skin matters,’ and in the multilayered and complex ways that skin color is enmeshed in racial, gendered, sexual, (post)colonial and other power relations.
The special issue thus focuses on the varying links between
1) race and color, 2) gender, sexuality, desire and color, 3) color and capital/commerce/commodities.
In addition, the issue explores analytic frameworks that attend to how skin color matters in entirely other ways, investigating the connection between color and social categories that at first glance may not be significant for marking bodily difference.
Examining regimes and representations of skin shades in different times and places, as well as analyzing color as embodied experience that encompasses – but is not limited to – ideology will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of what drives economies of color. It allows us to unpack historically specific formations of shadism, colorism, pigmentocracy, and how they relate to racism, (hetero)sexism, commodity spectacle (e.g. advertising, beauty and celebrity cultures), and other social identities and power relations.
Scholars from different fields will historicize and denaturalize white beauty ideals such as the English Rose, and discuss the various shades and tints that make up historically specific articulations of beauty, entertainment and music cultures, investigating how masculinities as much as femininities are marked by skin shades. Herein, we consider the role of paradigms of aesthetics and beauty in skin color perception and racial formation, and connect beauty to gender, sexuality and race, and aesthetics to politics.
The special issue will address some of the continuities and changes in perceptions of beauty and beautiful skin, and how they have been upheld, contested, emulated, alienated or ruptured.
Concept: Dominique Grisard, University of Basel; Margrit Vogt, University of Flensburg; and Katyayani Dalmia, New School for Social Research.
The Skin Color Reader
The Politics of Beauty Summer School 2016
Dr. Grisard is convening an international conference and summer school at the University of Cambridge (30 Aug - 3 September 2016) with the generous support of the Swiss Center for Social Research and the University of Cambridge (the Centre of Latin American Studies, the Centre for Gender Studies, the Department of Sociology and Downing College).
CfP Summer School (Deadline: 16 May 2016)
Private / Public Intimacy
Bedroom Cultures. The Private-Public Life of Intimacy
As the bourgeois social system gradually developed over the course of the 19th century, a new gender order emerged. This order established biologically based gender differences, gendered norms of attraction, intimacy and heterosexual desire while dividing social space into a public realm of men’s work and a private sphere of women’s domesticity. The emergence of the domestic interior and its various segments—namely, a semi-public day part and the private night section of the bedroom—was highly significant to these developments. This project interrogates how the emergence of the bedroom is connected to bourgeois gender differences. How has this particular room become the place for emotional attachments, intimacy and sexual practices?
Recently, the pluralization of gendered and sexual ways of existence seems to erode the bourgeois gender order. While sexuality and intimacy were once firmly rooted in the home, they have come to saturate the public in new ways at the same time that commercial sex has entered the ostensible privacy of the home. Concurrently, an increasing emphasis on gender differences and privately lived intimacy work to reinforce the traditional gender order.
The project’s primary objective is to get a better understanding of these paradoxical processes by training an eye on significant shifts in German and Swiss bedroom cultures from 1880 to today and connecting these exemplary shifts to broader developments in Central Europe and Britain. Three main questions guide the analysis: How are femininities and masculinities shaped by bedroom cultures? What insights do bedroom cultures offer to the relationship between gender differences and intimate and (hetero)sexual practices? How do gender differences attach to specific emotions, affects and sensory experiences in and through bedroom cultures?
The project’s principal area of investigation is the conjugal bedroom. The question of how the parental bedroom operates in relation to other rooms inside and outside the home, along with a strong interest in processes of gender formation in distinct life-stages, give rise to two subprojects: The first focuses on the child’s bedroom as central to the foundation of the nuclear family and the early gendering of the child; the second subproject traces the role of the adolescent’s semi-private bedroom as decisive for the emergence of the teenager as a distinctly sexualized life-stage. A third subproject examines the shifting place of the brothel, how it came to stand for the opposite of the conjugal bedroom in the late 19th century, and has since found its way into the home.
To this end, the project brings together a historical anthropological analysis of normative sources (e.g. advice books, furniture catalogs) and ego-documents (e.g. diaries, children’s essays) with a current-day ethnography of parental, teenage and children’s bedrooms and sex-specific sites. This interdisciplinary approach promises to yield empirically grounded results on past and current shifts in the relationship between gender differentiation, material culture and space. It offers new insight on domestic femininities and masculinities in distinct life-stages, and on the different ways in which emotional bonding, intimacy and sexuality are gendered. The project contributes to theory building by extending theories of multidimensionality to the ways in which emotional attachments and sensory experiences interweave with material culture. It thus seeks to make significant contributions to key fields of research in Gender Studies and the Historical and Cultural Anthropology of Emotions and the Senses.