Starts 22 June 2017 – 18:00
Finishes 24 June 2017 – 20:00
Birkbeck, University of London
Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in collaboration Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS), the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and the British Comparative Literature Association.
This major international feminist Conference emerges out of a shared sense that feminism today is confronted with a set of acute challenges to which it urgently needs to bring new resources and critical insight. Austerity policies, increasing social inequality, the general assault on collective policies of social welfare, the changes imposed on health care, the needs of an ageing population, the increasing worldwide visibility of violence (domestic violence, rape as a weapon of war, ‘honour’ killing, female genital mutilation), all of these intensifying trends are placing women under renewed pressure and are heightening the need for women to reflect, speak and find new means of expression. At the same time, the rise of populism in the context of Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US, with the growing racism that has accompanied both, are contributing to a climate where bigotry and misogyny are granted new permission to parade themselves in the media and on the streets. Opening and closing the conference with poetry and literary readings by renowned creative writers from across the globe, our aim is to demonstrate the central role of cultural expression in representing, illuminating and resisting this new climate in which women find themselves today.
The conference aims to address these issues, and their implications for feminist thought, activism and creativity, and in relation to public policy in the UK and globally. To that end, we are especially committed to fostering a unique atmosphere of dialogue and exchange which will cross the boundaries between scholars, practitioners and literary writers, between generations of feminists, across different ethnic and cultural groups, between the trans-movement and feminism, and between critical thinking and the demand for social change. The Conference will therefore gather together academics, literary scholars and poets, professionals, policy makers and feminist activists in the realm of health care, education, domestic labour and sexual violence. It will also be interdisciplinary, working across sociology and social history, economics, politics, psychoanalysis, sexuality and gender studies, literature, film and culture. Internationally renowned writers and thinkers such as NourbeSe Philip, Jackie Kay, Leila Ahmed and Drucilla Cornell will bring to the conference voices out of which we will aim to establish the forward looking nature of modern feminist expression and thought.