Historical Social Research

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Dominique Grisard: History of Knowledge, Terrorism and Gender [Abstract]

This article focuses on 20th-century terrorist phenomena as gendered objects of knowledge produced and disseminated through history books, mass media and state institutions. By taking 1970s West German terrorism as my field of inquiry, this article will critically discuss how a bourgeois understanding of violence as fundamentally masculine has shaped the way terrorism has been represented, conceptualized and historicized thus far. I will go on to problematize the masculine gaze of mass media and state institutions and their tendency to objectify the terrorist. Last but not least, I will delineate how mass media and historiography of terrorism have relied on a narrative structure that pits rebellious sons and masculine daughters against figural and literal fathers, a frame that is overtly masculine and familial. In so doing I will point to blind spots in the study of 1970s terrorism, namely masculinity and the gender of state institutions. My goal is thus to show how not just individual and symbolic, but also institutional facets of the bourgeois gender order influence the way terrorism has been conceptualized and historicized thus far.

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