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Micheline Dumont

The Hilda Neatby Prize French Article

2002

Micheline Dumont, “Un champ bien clos: l’histoire des femmes au Québec”, Atlantis (Fall 2000): 102-18.

To analyse and think of the world in terms of gender is a difficult, even perilous, exercise. However, women historians working on the history of women and gender have given themselves this task. Micheline Dumont’s article shows that, after decades of effort in this regard, very few male or female historians have been up to the challenge. By revealing the gaps in what she calls the female historian corporation in regard to this subject, Dumont’s article highlights important methodological and historiographic issues. How to judge the contribution of a new field of research? How to evaluate the penetration of this field in historical production? Since the emergence of this dimension of the research, do feminist women historians talk amongst themselves in a vacuum or have they succeeded in turning all their colleagues to a new approach? Dumont suggests that we read the historical production using a rather fine evaluation grid with four levels: the overshadowing of the reality of gender and women, compensatory presence, partial integration, conceptual integration. A reading of the publications selected by Dumont using this grid shows that new acquisitions in the history of women barely find an echo in Quebec historical production; the integration of methodological and theoretical innovations is still thinner especially in francophone historical production, anglophone historical production demonstrating a greater openness in this regard. The challenge is therefore considerable, as much for us women researchers in the history of women as for the others. To award a prize to an article which highlights the low resonance of the research into womens history in the general historical production might seem strange, if not masochistic. But we should thank Micheline Dumont for showing us that we still have a way to go before our ways of thinking are significantly changed.