History, Department of


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Published in Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 79, No. 4, pages 585–604. ISSN 0030-8684 © 2010 by the Regents of the University of California.


For over three decades, western women’s historians have been working not just to challenge male biases within western history scholarship but also to create a more multicultural inclusive narrative. Paradoxically, however, the overarching narrative of western women’s history continues to sideline women of color and to advance a triumphalist interpretation of white women in the West. This essay argues that a multicultural approach has not provided an adequate framework for understanding women and gender in the American West. Instead, western women historians must “decolonize” our narrative and our field through seriously considering the West as a colonial site. To do so, we must employ the tools and theories that scholars of gender and colonialism worldwide have developed to analyze other comparable colonial contexts and projects.

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