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The conquered thought : contribution to a transnational history of women and gender in the XXth century



ID: <10670/1.suhmq9>


This thesis analyzes the problematic ways in which women were able to become intellectuals in the XXth century. The cases of three women, born around 1900, are here studied. The artist and writer close to the Avant-Garde in general and the Surrealist movement in particular in the 20s and the 30s Claude Cahun; the Martinican journalist of colonial Paris in those same years Paulette Nardal, an important intellectual and activist figure in Post War Martinique after 1945; and last but not least, Viola Klein, a Czech Jew, exiled in Britain, and a forgotten pioneer of feminist sociology.This study is based upon an analysis of both the itinerary and cultural production of each of these women. It aims to understand how their intellectual experience is rooted in processes of self-awareness – as subjects who have to deal with otherness, as women, but also as racialized subjects – which shape the way in which these women intellectuals come to thought and commitment. This thesis also examines the complex position, Inside/Outside, of these women in relation to the movements and disciplines they join (Surrealism for Cahun, Négritude for Nardal, Sociology of Knowledge for Klein), the contribution they make to these movements and disciplines, and the plurality of the forms of thought and commitment such a liminal position entails. The aim is to question the ways in which works and ideas are spread and received – a process in which “invisibilization”, oblivion, but also rediscovery play a major part. This last idea opens up a reflection about the conceptions (national, disciplinary, ideological) pertaining to the construction of knowledge.

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