'History' is Now: Feminist Theory and the Production of Historical Feminisms

Title'History' is Now: Feminist Theory and the Production of Historical Feminisms
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsBurton, Antoinette
JournalWomen's History Review

Over the last decade, feminist practitioners across a variety of disciplines have been invoking history as an important grounding for both feminist politics and feminist theory. At the same time, however, insufficient account is taken of the extent to which standardized versions of ‘the feminist past’ are being invoked to represent a wide variety of feminist experiences and an equally heterogeneous set of historical circumstances and cultural contexts. It is suggested that if feminist reconceptualizations of history are to be taken seriously – if, in other words, history is the production of knowledges about the past and is itself contingent on the conditions of the present – feminist theorists must begin to reference both the imperial legacies of Anglo-European feminism and the multiplicity of feminist movements around the world. Only when feminists of all disciplinary persuasions begin to acknowledge the complex historical legacies of modern feminisms and situate their own critiques within them will feminist theory be properly grounded in, and responsive to, the exigencies of feminist history.

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