Contemporary history of Europe

CfP: Women’s narratives and European integration history

all news
CfP: Women’s narratives and European integration history
Conference on 20-21 April 2023 at the University of Luxembourg. Deadline: 1 March.

The question of women’s role in international relations has given rise to a growing body of research since the mid-1970s. Topics have included pacifist activism during World War Two (Gottlieb & Johnson, 2022; Goedde, 2019; Bell 2015), the feminist movement, human rights issues (Briatte, 2020; Kaplan, 2014; Offen, 2000) and gender issues in international relations theory, as well as other subjects within the fields of gender studies and intersectionality studies (Carver & Lyddon, 2022; Hancock, 2016; Steans, 2013). Female leadership in international relations and post-war diplomacy has also been explored (Müller & Tömmel, 2022; Owens & Rietzler, 2021; Aggestam & Towns, 2018; Sluga & James, 2016).

At European level, too, there has been increasing interest in this area. In policy terms, however, although the Treaty of Rome introduced a European gender equality policy in 1957, it was only from 1975 that a common policy on women’s economic and social rights began to be developed. Research has ranged from parity issues (Bereni & Reveillard, 2007; Deshormes, 1991) to women’s participation in the exercise of political power (Woodward, 2004; Union interparlementaire, 1995), the concept of gender mainstreaming as a cross-sector approach (Abels & Mushaben, 2012; Lascoumes & Le Gales, 2004) and female networks and gender issues in European integration (Hertner, 2021; Briatte, Gubin & Thébaud, 2019). But notwithstanding these efforts, in general the presence and influence of women, whether formal or informal, in power relations (Gaspard 2009), institutions (Carbonell, 2019; Dénéchère, 2016), international relations and diplomacy (Badel, 2021; Doré-Audibert, 2002; Seidel, 2023) has received scant attention.

The history of European integration and Europeanisation has developed into a varied field that has moved on from an initial focus on the vision and achievements of the founding fathers. However, even though women played a vital part in the European project launched after the Second World War (intellectuals, experts and technocrats, those with menial but essential jobs, parliamentarians, trade unionists, diplomats, activists for the European cause, etc.), their role has yet to be fully explored. Women tended to remain in the background until they began to be more readily accepted as political leaders, particularly following the first European elections by direct universal suffrage in 1979 and the appointment of the first female European Commissioner in 1989. Against this backdrop, “adding a gender perspective to European memory” and history (Milosevic, 2018) seems essential.

This conference, which focuses on the period after World War Two, aims to spark discussion on topics that can inform the following issues:

  • From a “his-storical” to a “her-storical” narrative: is there a female narrative in the European integration process? Specific historiographical traditions, theories, methodologies and approaches related to the history of women in Europe in the 20th and 21st centuries;
  • Biographical perspectives: individual women in the development and implementation of the European project;
  • The “female lobby”: how different organisations, groups of thinkers, activists and networks organised themselves to develop their influence, political presence and visibility in Europe (at trans-European/international level, within the EU and in individual Member States)
  • Women in East-West dialogue and the EU’s enlargement
  • Anti-europeanism: women and Euroscepticism
  • Gendered perspectives and issues related to European democracy, rights, policies, institutions and actors

Digital storytelling in developing new knowledge of the past: norms and practices in gathering, preserving, sharing and disseminating the memory of women who have played an active role on the European stage (oral history, text mining, network analysis, etc.)

These are intended to serve as broad categories; the conference will be open to a variety of approaches.

The conference will take place on 20-21 April 2023 at the University of Luxembourg/Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) in connection with the project “The role of women in European and international relations in Luxembourg (after the Second World War)”, developed by the University of Luxembourg, C²DH and Europe Direct at the University of Luxembourg.


Eligibility and how to apply

PhD students, early career researchers and experienced researchers are invited to submit proposals. Applicants should submit an abstract of no more than 500 words outlining their proposal and a short CV by 1 March in writing to François Klein ( with the subject heading “Women’s narrative conference application”.

Selected applicants will be informed by 10 March 2023.


Scientific committee

Dr Elena Danescu (University of Luxembourg/C²DH), Dr Katja Seidel (University of Westminster, School of Humanities), Dr Dieter Schlenker (Historical Archives of the European Union); Prof. Sonja Kmec (University of Luxembourg, Institute for History), François Klein (University of Luxembourg/C²DH).



Abels, Gabriele and Mushaben, Joyce Marie. Gendering the European Union. New Approaches to Old Democratic Deficits. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Aggestam, Karin and Towans, Anne. The gender turn in diplomacy: a new research agenda. Journal: International Feminist Journal of Politics, Volume 21, Number 1, 2019. DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2018.1483206, accessed 27 Jan. 2023

Badel, Laurence. “Femmes européennes en diplomatie”, in Diplomaties européennes. XIXe-XXIe siècle, sous la direction de Badel Laurence. Presses de Sciences Po: Paris, pp. 85-116, 2021.

Bell, Christine. Text and Context: Evaluating Peace Agreements for their Gender Perspective. Edinburgh: UK Political Settlements Research Program, 2015.

Bereni L. and  Revillard A.. “Des quotas à la parité: “féminisme d’État” et représentation politique (1974-2007)”, Paris, Genèse, no. 67, p. 5-23, 2007.

Briatte, Anne-Laure. “Feminisms and Feminist Movements in Europe”, Encyclopédie d'histoire numérique de l'Europe [online], ISSN 2677-6588, published on 22/06/2020, Permalink:, accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Briatte, Anne-Laure; Gubin, Eliane Gubin; Thébaud, Françoise (eds). L’Europe, une chance pour les femmes? Le genre de la construction européenne. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2019.

Carbonell, Mauve. Les femmes dans les premières années de la construction européenne. L’exemple de la Haute Autorité de la CECA, 1952-1967, in Anne-Laure Briatte; Éliane Gubin; Françoise Thébaud. L’Europe, une chance pour les femmes? Le genre de la construction européenne, Paris: Editions de la Sorbonne. pp.40-52, 2019. DOI 979-10-351-0286-9.

Carver, Terrel and Lyddon, Laura. Masculinities, Gender and International Relations. Bristol: Bristol University Press, 2022.

Dénéchère, Yves. Femmes et diplomatie: France XXe siècle. Brussels: P.I.E Peter Lang, 2016

Deshormes Fausta. Europe sociale, l’égalité des chances entre les femmes et les hommes, Luxembourg: Office des publications des Communautés européennes, 1991.

Dore-Audibert, Andrée. Propos irrévérencieux d’une épouse d’ambassadeur, Paris: Karthala, 2002.

Goedde, Petra. “Gendered Peace, Women’s Peace”, in The Politics of Peace: A Global Cold War History (New York, 2019; online edition, Oxford Academic, 21 Feb. 2019),, accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Gottlieb, Julie and Johnson, Gaynor (eds). Gendering peace in Europe, c.1800-2000. London: Routledge, 2022.

Hancock, Ange-Marie. Intersectionality: An Intellectual History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016

Hertner, Isabelle. Gendering European politics: A story of Progress and Backlash. Gendering European politics: A story of Progress and Backlash, Journal of European Integration, 43:4, 511-517, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/07036337.2021.1913252, accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kaplan, Gisela. Contemporary Western European Feminism (RLE Feminist Theory), London: Routledge, 1992.

Lascoumes, Pierre & Le Gales, Patrock. “De l’innovation instrumentale à la recomposition de l’Etat”, in Pierre Lascoumes & Patrick Le Gales (eds). Gouverner par les instruments. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po , pp.357-370, 2004.

Müller, Henriette and Tömmel, Ingeborg (eds). Women and Leadership in the European Union. Oxford University Press, 2022. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780192896216.003.0002, accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Offen, Karen M. European Feminisms, 1700-1950: A Political History. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.

Owens, Patricia & Katharina Rietzler (eds). Women’s International Thought: A New History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Seidel, Katja. “Miriam Camps and European Integration: Blurring the Boundaries between Scholarship and Diplomacy”, Global Studies Quarterly, forthcoming January 2023.

Sluga, Glenda & Caroly James (eds). Women, Diplomacy and International Politics Since 1500. New York: Routledge, 2016

Steans, Jill. Gender and International Relations, 3rd edition. Rutgers University Press, 2013.

Union interparlementaire: Les femmes et le pouvoir politique. Enquête menée au sein des 150 Parlements nationaux existant au 31 décembre 1991, Geneva, Union interparlementaire, series “Rapports et documents”, no. 23, 1995

Woodward, Alison: “Building Velvet Triangles: Gender and Informal Governance”, in Simona Piattoni and Thomas Christiansen (eds). Informal Governance and the European Union. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar: 76-93, 2004.

Milosevic, Ana. Does Europe prefer her sons over daughters? Source:, accessed 27 Jan. 2023.