La differece of being woman

Research and Teaching of History



The history of women, imperceptibly, is becoming more and more, history itself. Said like that, it seems an exaggeration. But if one thinks about how, more and more, politics is the politics of women 1 , and one remembers that the history that is written brings to the present the vocabulary of the political 2 , then it is possible to open up a crack in the mind that allows us to take this startling idea into consideration.

The history of women is, more and more, history, because as women we take care especially of relationship, of relationship without end 3 , in the sense that it is unending, that it is interlaced until infinity and that it has no other objective but relationship itself. In recent years, people have realised that the politics that truly interest us are those of relationship, not those of war and violence. Because of this, the history that we are most interested in knowing is that of relationship; and the history that people are interested in knowing is history.

The work that we introduce is inspired by this experience: an experience that broke out, like the light breaks out at dawn, in February 2003, in a call for peace in the face of the invasion of Iraq. The work is devoted to medieval and modern Europe (ninth to eighteenth century), although it does not try to be an exhaustive synthesis. What we try as its authors is to apply our experience of years conversing and working in a group, at crucial points of history, to the desire to see how its interpretation is transformed when those crucial points are placed in the light of human feminine experience. These crucial points are, for example, peace, freedom, spirituality, work, reading, teaching, witchcraft, wealth, love, the capacity to be two, friendship, knowledge...

Most of the historians of the group —which has been called Project Duoda since 1988—, belong to a generation that knows feminism well and, also, critical method. This allows us to manage with ease and love both archive sources and traditional historiography and, at the same time, it gives us the freedom to submit both to a rigorous scrutiny as women, each one setting out from the self; that is, setting out from the meaning that each author freely gives to the fact, casual but necessary, of her being a woman. The fact of a woman being a woman or a man a man —in other words, sexual difference— is missing in historiography, although not in the sources, because it is in life. To take sexual difference into account in the interpretation and writing of history is the main contribution that we offer here.

This work continues, although in quite a different way, a prior publication of the Project Duoda group: the Thesaurus of women’s history 4 that we finished eight years ago. The thesaurus – especially its second part, entitled "Setting Out from the Self"— has guided us in the interpretation of the sources. It has been incorporated into this web. All of the work is offered in five languages: Castilian, Catalan, English, German and Italian, except the thesaurus, which is in Catalan and Castilian, and the sources, which we offer in their original language (Latin, Catalan, Castilian, English), accompanied by a modern version.

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