Falko Schnicke | Penetration, Princesses, and Eunuchs. Body Politics and Gender in 19th-Century German Historiography.


During the scientification of German historiography since the late 18th-century not only the progressof professionalisation were perpetuated, but also the inclusion of modern gender norms,which where synchronically established and became an essential part within the discipline. This unconsidered implementation of the bourgeois gender polarity was extraordinary effective in the sense that 19th-century German historiography appears as highly gendered, much more than just in relation to the social origins of its – male – professions.
While the male dominance of 19th-century scientific investigation is a quite well-known fact, the differences within and their deep semantic groundings are less researched. Additionally the body politics in theorising historiography has hardly been addressed. Therefore, in the first part my presentation will focus on men/women-differences and on differences between hegemonic – which are claimed as scientific – and subordinated masculinities. Using sources creating the discipline’s self-disclosure, I discuss the function of bodies in defining historiography as hegemonic masculine practice as it occurs on different levels, e.g.: anthropologically by characterising female bodies as in deficit in terms of intellect and declaring male bodies as proper scientific bodies; culturally by fetishisation of archival practice as satisfying, pleasurably activity of men; heuristically by definition of sources as female and sexual attractive (Ranke entitles them »kleine Prinzessinnen« [little princesses]);methodologically by the direct sexualisation of historiographical techniques (Droysen uses in this context terms like »Penetration« [penetration] or »Befruchtung« [fertilisation], and calls his opponent’s method »eunuchisch« [eunuchish]).
The second part of my presentation describes the focussed semantics as product of a historiographical habitus (Bourdieu) and tries to give an answer to the question, why there is an increase in the use as well as in the intensity of these highly sexualised discourse during the 19thcentury.
I will argue firstly that this is related to an inner-discipline development (enhance of the discipline’s social prestige, which have to be marked as masculine) and secondly to an inter-discipline trend (competitive situation to the rising natural sciences).