1 The Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University2 Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University
This article considers how the field of gender studies is discursively constructed and valued amoung historians. The perceptions that give gender studies meaning and status are charted using interviews with professional historians from Danish institutes of historical research. The article offers four main findings with respect to historians’ perceptions of gender studies. Firstly, as a discipline, gender studies is associated with cultural history and disassociated from political history. Secondly, gender studies is connected to theory and divorced from sources. These two findings mean that there is a poor fit between the historians’ perception of gender studies and traditional Danish historical research, because of its tradition of empirical political history. Thirdly, gender studies is perceived as something distinct from a gender perspective. Where gender studies primarily has negative associations, a gender perspective, when it is thought ‘natural’ and ‘relevant’, is mainly viewed in a positive light as an obligatory element in good research. Fourthly and finally, the article shows how gender studies did not sit well in the interviewees’ minds with concepts about ‘high quality research’. Based on these findings, it is argued that gender studies is given meaning in terms of key phenomena in the collective self-perception of the field of history, which has negative consequences for how the discipline is perceived. Thus, the article concludes that gender studies as a subject faces several obstacles in being recognized as a valuable discipline in the field of historical research in Denmark.