empirical research alone--by and about women--will not solve the problem of exclusion entirely. Rather, they argue that the questions posed and the analytic approaches taken are crucial to the results feminists hope to obtain. 'How does the difference between the sexes function in the face of historical cataclysm or significant event?' they ask. And by implication, we could add, 'How do these cataclysms and events bring about new definitions of the relations between the sexes?' To their suggestion that contradiction and paradox be the focus of feminist historical analysis, we might add that the scope of such research ought not to be confined solely to gender. To the extent that gender enables and depends on other differences for its enunciation, we understand its operations more fully in this broader frame.
When feminist historians analyse social differentiation as the contingent, variable product of particular histories (as they do in this volume) they provide an alternative to categorical histories that take difference as fixed, stable, and eternal. In this they open possibilities for reinterpreting not only the history of women, but for understanding feminism in a new light. Not as a clearly definable entity, but as a site where differences conflict and coalesce, where common interests are articulated and contested, where identities achieve temporary stability--where politics and history are made.