Girlhood Studies, as an academic discipline, is continually growing. Since some educational institutions include girls’ studies as part of a special curriculum, an academic program, a certificate course, a minor, or as part of Women’s Studies or Gender Studies, Girlhood Studies has a presence in academia although at this stage rarely in an autonomous department. This interest in the pedagogies and practices of teaching Girlhood Studies is an important aspect of its growth as a field of study not only at the university level but also in other academic settings and outside of them, be they workshops, special programs for girls, and summer camps, among others. Depending on these formal and informal educational contexts, the discussion of approaches to teaching Girlhood Studies ranges from the theoretical to those that outline hands-on projects that invite and promote the discussion of girlhood. As Claudia Mitchell (2021) states in her editorial “What can Girlhood Studies be?” the research and scholarly work in Girlhood Studies “stands as its own theoretical and practical area” (vi) that warrants its study and teaching and that prompted the production of this special issue on teaching Girlhood Studies.
Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
A dream, dating back to 2001 when the late Jackie Kirk, Jacqui Reid-Wash, and I passed through a section labelled Girls Studies in Foyles Books on Charing Cross Rd., London, UK, was that someday there would not only be a journal devoted to girlhood studies but also a whole interdisciplinary teaching area. We talked about how students of youth studies, or childhood studies, or what was then called women’s studies might consider girlhood studies as an option in their programs or as a whole area of specialization. The dream of the journal was realized seven years later with the first issue of Girlhood Studies in 2008. Since then, as the guest editors of this Special Issue on Teaching Girlhood Studies highlight, there have been many initiatives including the development of courses on Girlhood Studies, and community/university activist projects. And now, finally, we have a whole issue devoted to teaching, curricula, and pedagogies of Girlhood Studies.
This issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, while unthemed in the sense that it comes out of an Open Call, reminds us that a foundational principle of Girlhood Studies remains one of contesting and challenging inequities. Furthermore, how girls themselves might, under some circumstances, take up critical issues in their lives is evident in these contributions. Each of the contributors has placed front and centre the idea of contesting. Recently in a publications panel at a graduate student conference, participants, eager to get their work published, wanted to know more about this journal. Two of their questions stand out. “May the articles be quantitative as well as qualitative?” and “Is it enough that at least half of my participants are girls?” This collection of articles responds beautifully to these questions in offering an affirmative to the question about quantitative and qualitive data when the point is to use appropriate evidence to contest gender norms, and a negative to being about representation in terms of simply including girls.
This article provides an analysis of how military history museums in Germany, Britain, Belgium, Poland, and the United States exhibit and contextualize weapon technologies that were developed in the two world wars. The article focuses on technologies (gas warfare, the atomic bomb, tanks, and the V2 long-range rocket) that are directly connected to military success and innovation but also relate to dehumanization and destruction. By employing the analytical concepts of experientiality and of antagonistic, cosmopolitan, and entangled memory, this article demonstrates how museums can create open or closed narratives, steer the visitor toward particular interpretations, enhance or deconstruct the authentic aura of technological artifacts, and stage the symbolic potential of technologies. In addition, it shows how museums can educate visitors and allow them to experience the ambiguities, controversies, and complexities of these technologies.
Places of Progress? Technology Museums, Memory, and Education
Christian Kehrt and Daniel Brandau
“Revolutionary” technologies or large technological systems are often deemed controversial, risky, or ambivalent. Diverging interpretations clash when technological objects, such as rockets, airplanes, or nuclear reactors, are exhibited in museums or at heritage sites, with profound implications for underlying concepts of historical education. This special issue explores the argument that histories of technology have often upheld a traditional view of modern linear progress but became the focus of controversies when the social, political, and cultural conditions of perceiving and remembering these objects changed. At former “places of progress,” visitors and exhibition makers are confronted with the remains of the Industrial Revolution, colonialism, two World Wars, the Cold War, the Age of Coal, the Space Age, the Atomic Age and the Digital Age. Exhibitions and displays have been used to explain, teach, or make sense of the advents, successes, and failures of high-tech projects. Understanding technological artifacts and corresponding sites such as Chernobyl, Peenemünde, and Hiroshima as well as structures such as factories or bunkers as sites of memory (lieux de mémoire, a term coined by Pierre Nora) shifts our attention to processes of remembering modern technologies and the cases in which established narratives of progress have been supported or challenged. Questions about the ethics of technology use often seem to subvert stories of the “heroes of invention,” leaving visitors with the impression of technological ambivalence. Attempts to teach and learn about history and technology via objects and sites have been complicated, politicized, and contested.
Remembering Second World War Technologies in Rural East Germany from 1984 to 1992
Given Peenemünde's ambivalent military and technological history, from rocket development during the Nazi period to East German naval and air bases during the Cold War, its musealization was considered both a chance and challenge during the region's deindustrialization in the 1990s. Local residents’ support of veteran engineers promoting an apologetic view of Nazi rocketry was met with bewilderment. However, a space park project and anniversary event were spearheaded by government and industry representatives, turning a regional affair into an international controversy. The article analyzes the function of memory work and the remembrance of technological progress in rural northeastern Germany before and after German reunification. Based on archival sources and interviews with former officers and museum advocates, it traces the Peenemünde museum project through a history of ideological and biographical caesurae, enthusiasm, political promises, and socioeconomic despair.
The Uganda Railway and Memory Work in Kenya
This article is concerned with the memory of the Uganda Railway in Kenya. Built during the heyday of British imperialism at the end of the nineteenth century, the colonial railway has been a highly contested infrastructure. Drawing on museum exhibitions, public speeches, and publications, the article argues that the main narrative of the railway line as a tool of oppression began to change when the railway infrastructure gradually deteriorated in the mid-twentieth century. I show how three distinct groups (white expatriates, Kenyan-Asians, and Kenya's political elite) were involved in creating a new public memory that popularized the Uganda Railway as a cornerstone of the postcolonial nation. Their uncoordinated but simultaneous efforts toward a new reading of the past all aimed, albeit for different reasons, at reimagining the nation. The article thus shows mechanisms of coming to terms with the colonial past in a postcolonial nation.
The “me of me” in Black Girlhoods
Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith
We begin by paying tribute to feminist Black scholar, bell hooks, who died 15 December 2021. As the numerous citations in just this issue alone bear witness, she has had a huge influence on feminist ways of thinking particularly in relation to how race, gender, and capitalism intersect. In her well-known essay, “In Our Glory” on Black girlhood and visual culture (), she offers a memory of losing a photograph of herself as a young girl in the 1950s masquerading, as she called it, in full cowgirl regalia.
Sometimes the evolution of an open call issue of Girlhood Studies results in something of a girls studies reader unto itself. Since this issue is packed full of criss-crossing themes based on work in several countries—Canada, Iceland, India and the US—there is just no room for editorial commentary. In its inclusion of works on intersectional feminisms and feminist and Indigenous-led critique to school-based and intergenerational interventions and the power of the visual, this issue is something of such a reader.
Looking Outward from/with IGSA@ND
Angeletta KM Gourdine, Mary Celeste Kearney, and Shauna Pomerantz
We are proud to introduce this special issue that was inspired by the 2019 International Girlhood Studies Association (IGSA) conference at the University of Notre Dame (IGSA@ND). At that time, we were not yet acquainted with each other beyond exchanging pleasantries and knowing of each other's academic profiles. Yet we came together as three co-editors and scholars committed not only to the diversification of girlhood studies but also to the larger project of social justice for all. We want to promote such work through this special issue and, in the process, expand perspectives and practices within the field of girlhood studies, as many before us have done.