Arnfred, Signe, and Kirsten Bransholm Pedersen. ‘From Female Shamans to Danish Housewives: Colonial Constructions of Gender in Greenland, 1721 to ca. 1970’. NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, vol. 23, no. 4, Routledge, Oct. 2015, pp. 282–302.
Taking its inspiration from post-colonial feminist scholarship, particularly the writings of Greenland scholar Karla Jessen Williamson, this paper sets out to trace the ways in which conceptions of gender in Greenland changed as a consequence of the eighteenth-century colonial encounter with Christian missionaries and a Danish trade monopoly. According to Jessen Williamson, pre-colonial Greenlandic conceptions of gender were characterized by a certain social indifference to gender, and the absence of a given hierarchy of male dominance/female subordination—a situation of genderlessness. During the process of colonization, European morals of sexuality and hierarchies of gender were introduced, along with hierarchies of race. The paper focuses on two historical periods, the 1700s and the 1900s. We see the first period as characterized by intricate intersections of gender, race, and class, as well as transformations of existing norms of gender and sexuality. As for the second period, the paper investigates how the notion of genderlessness might provide a background for understanding the different implications of the process of modernization for different groups of women in Greenland. Our aim is to contribute to a continued discussion of different understandings of gender in Greenland and elsewhere.