Ugly Intimacies and State Power: Separation Processes in Late Nineteenth-century Denmark

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

This article is about the complicated intertwinements of state power, bureaucratic practices and the gendered formation of emotions in separation processes. Historians have long argued that ‘emotional regimes’ aim at regulating the emotional behaviour of different groups of people, and gender historians have demonstrated that marriage is crucial in shaping people's cognitive, social, sexual and economic possibilities in fundamentally gendered ways. This article contributes to these lines of research by suggesting that in order to understand the complex and variable nature of the state and the centrality of emotions to its gendered exercise of power, we need to interrogate the many local everyday interactions between state representatives and ordinary citizens in a variety of contexts. Concentrating on one of the public/private arenas in which these exchanges take place, the article examines separation cases from late nineteenth-century Denmark. It employs the concept of ‘emotional formation’ to argue that the state played a central role in shaping the contestants’ emotional dispositions in deeply gendered ways. Yet, this was not a top-down operation, but rather a multi-vocal process in which the boundaries between appropriate and inacceptable gendered emotional behaviour were a site of contestation.
Original languageDanish
JournalGender & History
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 232389769