Gender in and beyond the Canon, or how to make Women (In)visible in History

  • Geertje Mak


When the Dutch columnist and right-wing populist politician Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated in 2002, published his diatribe Against the Islamisation of our Culture (1997) he used a historical narrative to illustrate what was most essential to ‘our’ culture.’ This is not so remarkable, in that since the nineteenth century one of history’s most important — and most contested — uses has been the justification, characterization and marking off of national identities. What was remarkable, however, was what he considered the most important historical change in the Netherlands since the emergence of the welfare state. After a brief overview of the history of the emancipation of women and the liberation of homosexuals in the final decades of the twentieth century, he concluded: ‘It is my moral judgement that this is humankind’s greatest mental and cultural achievement in the modern world since the creation of the welfare state. At any rate, I do not know of a greater accomplishment and effort of civilisation with more far-reaching results.’2 As Islam did not acknowledge equal rights for women and did not tolerate homosexuality at all, his argument went, Islam was a threat to a tolerant Dutch society at large.


Historical Narrative Dutch Woman Dutch Nation Gender Asymmetry Mission Civilatrice 
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© Geertje Mak 2007

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  • Geertje Mak

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