Until there is no “next time”

Yesterday, Dieuwertje Dyi Huijg, Sharlene Khan and myself ran a workshop titled “Radical politics, critical academia: talking the talk, but walking the walk?” at the Critical Diversities conference at Southbank University. We organised it to create a space to discuss the frustration we all feel as well as what we can do to challenge the discrepancy between the “talk” about diversity and social justice in supposedly critical academic disciplines and spaces and the distinct lack of “walking”: the lack of attention to accessibility within academic spaces; the lack of attention to how structural power operates not just ‘out there’ but also ‘in here’; the constrant micro-aggressions and perpetuation of neoliberal logics in spaces where academics are giving papers about resisting them. I am grateful for the conversations and connections we made with other conference participants on these topics both during and after the workshop. Thank you to everyone who participated! Dyi, Sharlene and myself each shared some of our personal reflections at the beginning of the workshop, and below I have copied the text of my talk.

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Feminist academia in Britain has a race problem. No, I’m not talking about every single conference or every single white feminist, but institutionally and systemically the problem persists. I see feminist conferences as spaces where this problem often plays out, and I want to talk about that, from my perspective as a white person researching racism and whiteness within British feminism.

How many times have you been to a feminist conference, looked around the room, and seen a sea of white faces? Since starting my PhD in 2008, I have found that academic feminist conferences – with some exceptions – are some of the whitest spaces I inhabit. I mean this both numerically and politically. On more than a few occasions I have been at feminist conferences where race was not discussed at all, where the fact that 95% of the people in the room were white was not discussed at all. Where it was not until the closing plenary where someone – often a woman of colour – raised the lack of attention to race and racism at the conference, the lack of feminists of colour at the conference, most commonly met with an awkward silence followed by a vague commitment about “next time”, “next year”? But next time it’s always next time. When it comes to race, feminist conferences are like Groundhog Day: the patterns repeating, over and over again.

Not that all the patterns are the same. While some conferences are completely oblivious to race, there are others which are advertised as race-aware; that frame their call for papers around intersectionality and difference. Yet when the day comes, hardly any papers even mention black feminism. Because intersectionality these days has become a free-floating signifier for any two or more identity-categories; a concept which can be used without any acknowledgement of its origins and history. A conceptual frame, as Kimberlé Crenshaw put it earlier this year, which can now be “enjoyed without the female black bodies that originally came with it”.

Then there are the panels and spaces at feminist conferences where we do have conversations about racism in feminism, but where white feelings and white comfort is prioritised. Over and over, I have witnessed and felt the intense resistance from white feminists to actually staying with the discomfort of this conversation, particularly when it means talking about racism within feminism as something which exists in this room. Racism in feminism becomes always located in the past, in the United States, at another event, in FEMEN performing topless jihad in front of a mosque, but never here, now, in this room.

I am aware of my ambiguous position here. I am white, and I both benefit from and resist white supremacy within feminism. I do not stand out at feminist conferences – my presence is not scrutinised; I am assumed to belong. I can choose when I speak about racism and whiteness, when I want to make it an issue. My whiteness means I am also more likely to be heard and listened to by other white feminists when I do speak about it. My PhD is my training to become an expert in feminism and race, and institutional racism means I am more likely to secure a job in these fields. After I have given papers at conferences, I often get praised by other white feminists, who say I’m doing important, challenging work. My whiteness makes it easier for them to talk to me about it. Others get annoyed with me, say I need to “complicate whiteness”, that “not all white feminists are the same”, that I should be talking about class, that it is unfair to critique other feminists’ work the way that I do.

Too many of these conversations centre around white feminists’ feelings and emotional responses. Sarita Srivastava’s research into discussions about racism within feminist organisations is relevant. White feminists responding to anti-racist critiques tend to, she writes:

… speak in an emotional manner about their commitment, hope, solidarity, complicity, guilt, lack of complicity, failure to understand, disbelief, hurt, and anger that they have been accused; tears are the most commonly described reaction. The problem, as the antiracist activists interviewed point out, is not that emotional expression is inherently negative; the problem is that discussions about personnel, decision making, or programming become derailed by emotional protestations that one is not a racist and by efforts to take care of colleagues upset by anti-racist challenges. (Srivastava 2005: 42)

Similar derailments are habitual in academic feminist spaces. There are too many attachments to the identity of feminist as being synonymous with “good person” and therefore “not racist”. Too many conversations which focus on how hard it is for white feminists to understand racism, to even see it.

When people say it is hard, I think it means they haven’t spent enough time trying to learn.

To other white feminists, I want to say: If you avoid talking about race and racism because you are afraid to or because it makes you uncomfortable, then you are perpetuating white supremacy. The way to undo your fear is to learn more about it. Whatever your research interests, whatever your specific field, read black and postcolonial feminist theory, read critical race studies.

None of what I am saying is new or original. It has been said by many feminists of colour before. Understand that women of colour have always been central in the development of feminist theory and praxis.

At our feminist conferences, let’s talk about the racism which is in the room, let’s stay with the discomfort and the uncertainty. And when I say “stay with it”, I don’t mean talk about how uncomfortable you feel – feel it without comment, decentre your white anxiety and guilt.

But don’t stop there. We need to examine the structures, the priorities, the decision making, the power-relationships – in our feminist associations, in our research centres, at our conferences, in our formal and informal feminist networks. Then we need to dismantle all the structures that uphold racism within our communities. Until there is no “next time”.

Whose feminism? What waves?

'Other kinds of dreams': Black women's organisations and the politics of transformation, by Julia Sudbury

‘Other kinds of dreams’: Black women’s organisations and the politics of transformation

Writing in the early twenty-first century, in an article exploring the possibilities of a third wave black feminism, Kimberly Springer outlined how the “wave model” in its dominant form drowns out the activism of black women. Writing about the US context, Springer pointed out how the dominant understandings of the 1st wave (suffrage movement), 2nd wave (women’s liberation/women’s rights movements in 60s-70s) and 3rd wave (contemporary feminism) “disregard[ed] the race-based movements before them that served as precursors, or windows of political opportunity, for gender activism” (Springer 2002: 1061). For example, the dominant third wave narrative, she pointed out, tends to dismiss the role of black women in the development of the term itself – noting that Kitchen Table Women of Color Press had plans to publish a book in the late 1980s called ‘The Third Wave’. The book, which unfortunately never came to fruition, “was to describe an antiracist, women-of-color-led feminism for the coming decade” (Springer 1063).

Springer’s critique of the wave model is relevant for thinking also about feminism in Britain. Although following its own unique trajectory, located in a different social and historical context, the wave story here is often told in similar terms: First wave = movements for suffrage, including the suffragettes; second wave = the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 70s. What exactly constitutes the third – and potentially a fourth – wave is perhaps the most disputed. But whatever the definitions, similar to the US version, the wave story seldom accounts for black women’s theory and activism.

I was reminded of Springer’s article this week apropos the New Stateman’s “Rereading the second wave”, a series of posts on so-called ‘second wave’ feminists and their work. Ten out of eleven of the feminists in question are/were white, with only one post about a feminist of colour (Audre Lorde). Now my post is not so much about the NS series in itself. It is after all a rather idiosynchratic list chosen by a group of feminists assembled by the NS and, as the introductory post states, it’s not meant to be definitive – although note the regularity with which this claim is used as a get-out clause when systemic exclusions are pointed out. Aside from the lack of feminists of colour, what stands out to me most is that eight of the so-called ‘second wave’ feminists are/were American (none British). I also wonder how Judith Butler feels about being described as ‘second wave’, but whatever.

What I am interested in is how stories of feminism get told – both within the liberal (in some senses) ‘pro-feminist’ media such as the New Statesman and the Guardian, as well as among contemporary feminists themselves (and these of course overlap) – and how those stories are inflected and defined by white supremacy. I mean, considering the NS list is so idiosynchratic, then why is it still so white? Of course there is a straight-forward, predictable answer to this: most of the contributors to the series are white. But leaving that to one side for a moment – although it is of course part of the problem – is there something inherent in the ‘second wave’ terminology that denotes whiteness? As Springer observed, “The wave model perpetuates the exclusion of women of color from women’s movement history and feminist theorizing” (1063) and this certainly is the overwhelming case when looking at invocations of the “second wave” within many British feminist spaces. It seems to limit the imagination of what histories of women’s activism look like, because the dominant image associated with “second wave” activism is that of white women’s liberationists.

Charting the Journey

Charting the Journey: Writings by Black and Third World Women

Although she is critical of the ‘wave model’, Springer argues that because it is so embedded within our understandings of feminism, it is still worth working with this model – critiquing it from within and expanding it to include women of colour’s activism (the bulk of her article focuses on the possibilities of a third wave black feminism and how it might engage with more young black women). But others write without using the wave metaphor. Julia Sudbury, for example, in her book on (politically) black women’s activism in post-war Britain does not refer to waves at all – the stories simply don’t fit that way. Neither is her research framed exclusively around the term feminism (Sudbury locates herself as writing from a Womanist perspective).  The fact that many black women have organised for rights and justice without taking on the label ‘feminist’ also needs to be recognised as part of the complexity of women’s activist & feminist histories.

But the wave metaphor is very pervasive within Anglo-American feminist storytelling. Personally, I’m quite averse to using it in my own writing, yet find it difficult to get completely away from doing so. So is Springer right? Is it better to try and work with the wave model, but to critique it and expand it? Or is “second wave” irrevocably bound to the image of a white women? (and this is a two-way process – I often see and hear ‘second wave’ used as derogatory short-hand for white feminism).

Either way, what is undoubtedly urgent is the need to destabilize the hegemonic whiteness of stories of the feminist past as they are told and re-told within contemporary feminist spaces.

I started writing a whole other part to this post about structural racism, capitalism and publishing, which of course plays a huge role in who gets to write books and become canonised. But I’ll leave that for now, because it’s a somewhat separate point. After all, women of colour did publish extensively in the 1970s and 80s (often collectively through anthologies). Their continued marginalisation from the dominant feminist canon of this time period is not because they weren’t writing, but because of white supremacy.

So if you are unfamiliar with the histories of scholarship by women of colour and black feminists in the 70s, 80s and 90s, here are a few of my suggestions (with a focus on Britain) of writings to seek out:

‘Other kinds of dreams’: Black women’s organisations and the politics of transformation, by Julia Sudbury (Routledge 1998). Sudbury’s PhD thesis on which this book is based on is available open access from Warwick University’s online repository.

Black British Feminism: A Reader, edited by Heidi Safia Mirza (Routledge 1997).

Charting the Journey: Writings by Black and Third World Women, edited by Shabnam Grewal, Jackie Kay, Liliane Landor, Gail Lewis and Pratibha Parmar (Sheba Feminist Press 1988). Also: Listen to Gail Lewis talking about how this book was marginalised within British Women’s Studies programmes on the Sisterhood and After online archive.

Feminist Review issue 17

Feminist Review issue 17: Many Voices, One Chant

Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain, by Amrit Wilson (Virago Press 1978). You can listen to Amrit Wilson talking about researching this book on the Sisterhood and After online archive. See also Wilson’s more recent Dreams, Questions, Struggles: South Asian Women in Britain (Pluto Press 2006).

Cartographies of Diaspora; Contesting Identities, by Avtar Brah (Routledge 1996).

Feminist Review issue 17: ‘Many Voices, One Chant: Black Feminist Perspectives’ (1984). This might be tricky to get hold of outside of academic libraries (there are also copies in the Feminist Library in London), but you can read Valerie Amos and Pratibha Parmar’s influential essay “Challenging imperial feminism” online [PDF link].

White feminist stories in The Guardian

Last week, my first journal article was published, titled “White feminist stories: Locating race in representations of feminism in The Guardian” (Feminist Media Studies 2014).

One chapter of my PhD analyses several dozen Guardian and Observer articles about feminism over a number of years, paying close attention to how these articles construct stories of British feminism past and present. Who – in terms of ethnicity and race – is constructed as central or significant within these stories and who is marginal or erased? Where is race and racism located within these narratives?

In this article, I present a close reading of three such Guardian articles about feminist activism from recent years, unpicking the underlying assumptions about British feminism which they rest upon. I focus in particular on three narrative logics which are dominant within this discourse, which present contemporary feminist activism as: 1) a continuation of a white feminist legacy, 2) a unified movement of “like-minded” individuals, and 3) as “diverse” and “happy”.

These narratives erase power differences between women, as well as a multitude of feminist organising in Britain, including Black British feminism. Although the Guardian (as a result of persistent challenge by black and anti-racist feminists) is increasingly representing contemporary feminist activism as diverse and intersectional, the dominant story that it constructs of British feminist history is an overwhelmingly white one, as if feminists of colour have only recently started to exist and organise. The insistence on presenting feminism as an “innocent” movement also leads to a lack of acknowledgement of white feminist racism within British feminist movements.

Although, as I write in the article, challenges to the whiteness of Guardian feminism are continuously made, the resistance to change highlights the continued unequal power relations between white feminists and feminists of colour, and the persistence of whiteness in defining feminism within mainstream liberal media.

You can read the accepted version of the paper here. This is the final version submitted to the publisher, so is more or less the same as the published version, minus copyediting changes and typesetting. The published version of the article is available – behind a paywall – on the Feminist Media Studies website.

White feminists vs white feminism

Five years ago I wrote a post for The F-word aimed at white feminists like myself, calling for us to challenge racism and white privilege within feminist activist communities. I wrote it at a time when I was more actively involved in such communities ‘on the ground’ than I am now. It was also written at a moment when I was just starting out my PhD and began to enter equally problematically white academic feminist spaces.

In the last five years, feminist activism in Britain has changed significantly for the better (less so feminist academia, I would say). There has been a significant increase in discussion about racism within feminism, forced on to the table by feminists of colour. I am by no means suggesting that feminists of colour were not raising these issues prior to this point because they were (& the circularity and repetitiveness of these debates is part of the pattern, upheld by white resistance to ever taking the critiques on board), but at least two significant things have happened in the last five years. One was the formalisation of the Black Feminists group in 2010 and their central role in promoting an intersectional approach to feminist organising in Britain. Secondly – and on a more global level – the explosion of social media has significantly changed the ‘rules’ of public debate. Bypassing white feminist gatekeepers, feminists of colour have built significant independent platforms from which they have been able to more effectively and consistently challenge the dominance of white feminist discourse online (although while it can be a powerful tool for social justice, social media should not be mistaken as the great equaliser of public debate).

Yet despite a much greater level of discussion about racism within feminism, and more white feminists recognising racism as a problem, this has not yet un-lodged the persistence of whiteness in continuing to structure many feminist activist and academic spaces in Britain today. I looked up my F-word piece again, because I have been thinking about what white feminists who want to end racism need to be doing in this moment and I wanted to remind myself what I thought five years ago. Although some of the things I wrote in that piece I cringe a bit at now, overall I think the points it made about what white feminists need to do still stand. Much of it centred on the need to learn about racism and anti-racist histories of feminism, as well as challenging single-issue politics and denials of racism among white feminists – nothing which was new then and nothing which is new now. But what I think is missing in that piece is an analysis of the power of white feminism as a specific form of dominant discourse and structure.

The term ‘white feminism’ has for decades been used by feminists of colour to name feminist politics which do not attend to race. One of the first texts which I read which explicitly defined the term is Razia Aziz’s 1992 article ‘Feminism and the challenge of racism: Deviance or difference?’ (reprinted in the Black British feminism reader), in which she writes:

In attempting to shift the ground of feminist discourse, the adversary has at times appeared to be white feminists but is in fact, I would venture, white feminism – by which I expressly do not mean any feminism espoused by white feminists. I refer, rather, to any feminism which comes from a white perspective, and universalizes it… I do not propose that white feminism is a clearly defined, coherent and internally consistent body of thought that feeds off conscious racist intentions. It is, rather, a way of seeing which, however inadvertent, leaves identifiable traces. It subsists through a failure to consider both the wider social and political context of power in which feminist utterances and actions take place, and the ability of feminism to influence that context.

White feminism as a descriptive term has been in wide circulation in recent discussions online. To counter the resistance to the term by many white feminists who refuse to see racism as a systemic problem within feminism, Cate Young, in a blog post titled ‘This is what I mean when I say “white feminism”’, lays out similar points to Aziz, and specifically describes white feminism as practice:

I see “white feminism” as a specific set of single-issue, non-intersectional, superficial feminist practices. It is the feminism we understand as mainstream; the feminism obsessed with body hair, and high heels and makeup, and changing your married name. It is the feminism you probably first learned. “White feminism” is the feminism that doesn’t understand western privilege, or cultural context. It is the feminism that doesn’t consider race as a factor in the struggle for equality.

White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of colour. It is “one size-fits all” feminism, where middle class white women are the mould that others must fit.  It is a method of practicing feminism, not an indictment of every individual white feminist, everywhere, always.

In ‘A word to white women’, Reni Eddo-Lodge, building on Young’s piece, brings to the fore the society-wide structural inequality which enables the dominance of white feminism. She suggests white feminism can be “conceptualised as the feminist wing” of the “political consensus” of whiteness and white supremacy, describing white supremacy as “a political structure that is concerned with maintaining power though domination and exclusion”.

Aziz’s, Young’s and Eddo-Lodge’s descriptions of white feminism all coalesce around the point that white feminism is a discourse upheld through political structures. Its legitimacy and power is enabled through its collusion with white supremacy and it has harmful effects, whatever the intent behind it.

Another point which all three writers emphasise is the distinction between white feminism as discourse/structure and individual white feminists. This distinction is unquestionably important – as otherwise white feminism can never be undone – but I do have concerns about how this distinction is sometimes used by individual white feminists – specifically those of us who do have an anti-racist awareness. Because I think it can provide a convenient distancing mechanism from those other ‘bad’ white racist feminists *over there*. If we are not (or claim not to be) articulating a white feminist approach to gender oppression, and critique those that do, then we can claim to situate ourselves outside of white feminism. But what does this distancing do? I don’t think it does very much to end racism within feminism. It reminds me of Sara Ahmed’s work on the “non-performativity of anti-racism”: White people do not challenge racist structures just by saying we are anti-racist.

If we understand white feminism as a discourse supported by structures – and vice versa – it becomes clear that it is not going to be undone by individual white feminists renouncing it. In fact, white feminists who are committed to ending racism, would do well to not distance ourselves from white feminism but rather to understand how we are implicated within it – to draw on a recent blog post by Ahmed, to see our complicity as a starting point. What are the structures of white feminism and what is our (as individual white feminists) stake in them?

In Britain in 2013, structures which support the dominance of white feminist discourse include the institutionalisation of feminism within sections of the liberal media, white-led feminist organisations and groups which operate a ‘politics of inclusion’ without redistribution of power, white-dominated academic feminist networks, journals and conferences which incessantly tout ‘intersectionality’ without addressing institutional racism within (feminist) academia, left-wing and academic publishers that promote the idea that only white women can speak for feminism. These are just some examples which come to mind. Individual white feminists will have a variety of investments and access within these structures. Each of us needs to figure out what our roles can be in disrupting them.

‘Feminist structures’ can of course not be separated from larger societal structures, which makes Eddo-Lodge’s description of white feminism as the ‘feminist wing’ of white supremacy particularly apt. White feminism cannot be dismantled in separation from white supremacist society. So on a wider level, white feminists need to ask ourselves what and who our whiteness gives us access to – whether it’s resources, institutions, people and/or platforms.

I mean this in both ‘big’ and ‘small’ ways. For those of us who have class privilege and/or various forms of institutional access it will involve leveraging power and redistributing resources towards people of colour-led anti-racist work. But it is also about how whiteness affords us access, trust and credibility in everyday ways. Whiteness, as Eddo-Lodge addresses, is that which is invisible to white people – its power comes (partly) from the fact that white society doesn’t recognise its existence and sees white people as just ‘people’. Whiteness gives us access to this world of ‘just people’ in ways which people of colour don’t have. Our whiteness means we are likely to know more white people intimately in all areas of our lives, and our whiteness means people see us as more ‘objective’. Part of challenging this white solidarity involves committing to ongoing – difficult – conversations about whiteness and racism within our communities – our white friends, family members, colleagues and local communities as much as our feminist and activist networks.

For white feminists who want to end racism, dismantling white feminism requires more from us than calling out Caitlin Moran on Twitter. It requires us to take an active role in restructuring the systems of white supremacy. As we will always have a proximity to white power whether we like it or not, the question is what we do with it.

Why critique?

Last week I presented a paper at the Forthcoming Feminisms conference, in which I talked about two books about contemporary feminism which I have been analysing in my research. This included some critical comments about how these particular texts construct feminist politics in relation to ‘race’.

In the discussion which followed, I was asked whether I think it’s fair to critique feminist writers in this way. My answer was ‘yes’: I think it is definitely fair to present critiques of published material. This is common practice within academic scholarship, surely – we engage with what others have written, building on their work, which may also involve disagreeing with their analysis and presenting a critique.

But I want to write this out a bit more, because I think there are several things going on here, and which I have been coming back to every so often as I’ve been working on this project.

First off – yes, it is true that one of the major aspects of my research involves analysing a range of feminist texts and asking specific questions related to ‘race’, racism and whiteness. This means I end up critiquing quite a number of texts on the basis of what I consider to be a marginalisation of discussions of racism, and also often the marginalisation of scholarship by feminists of colour.

I am well aware that as I start to (hopefully) publish my work and speak more publically about it, I am potentially going to get some people’s backs up and be seen as being critical and ‘mean’. And yes, I am quite nervous about that. But there are a few points I think it is useful to unravel here, about why I see critique as important and relevant:

  • Critique is not about individuals; it’s about questioning particular formulations of ideas and theories. These ideas and theories are not created in a vacuum, but are formulated within the context of a wider discourse. In her analysis of the ‘political grammar’ of feminist stories presented within feminist journal articles, Clare Hemmings emphasises how narratives are constructed within an institutional context, involving collective processes (including not only the author of an article, but also editors, peer reviewers and the wider academic feminist community). Similarly, I want to argue that problematic discourses on ‘race’ and the privileging of whiteness is institutionalised within mainstream feminism: it is the collective responsibility of white feminists, and bigger than any one individual – although each individual has a role to play. And related to this: I do not see myself as outside of this discourse – but rather as working from within it to destabilise and trouble it. And I know I may well get something wrong and my work critiqued in turn. But that’s how we move forwards, right?
  • I think there is a particular anxiety around race-related critiques – a greater fear on the part of (“well-meaning”) white people associated with being seen as racist – which is more acute than with other topics. Would I have been asked the question above if I was critiquing the texts on other grounds? We need to reflect on the role white anxiety plays in deflecting attention away from challenging white privilege and racism.
  • Anti-racist critique within feminist spaces has too often been left to women of colour. This is often difficult and emotionally fraught work. Sara Ahmed writes about the black feminist being perceived as ‘killing feminist joy’ when she points out white feminist racism (and accused of being ‘angry’). I see my work as part of taking responsibility, as a white feminist, for challenging racist and white-centric theory and politics – of being accountable on the subject of white privilege and racism, and taking calls for addressing these issues seriously.

As I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been reminded of something a friend of mine said towards the end of a particularly difficult conversation a few years ago, and something which I think encapsulates what I’m trying to get across here: ‘We critique because we care’. In a way that says it all, really.

Forthcoming Feminisms

Registration is now open for the conference Forthcoming Feminisms: Gender Activism, Politics and Theories, which will be held in Leeds on Friday 26th October 2012.

I will be presenting a paper, provisionally titled “‘Race’, (anti-)racism and whiteness within feminism in England: Learning from the past?“, in which I will look at some of the dominant narratives around feminism and ‘race’ within contemporary feminist discourse in England. I will argue that underlying claims to a diverse (and implied anti-racist) present, feminism in its dominant forms in England is still structured by whiteness, and that in order to change, contemporary white feminists must engage with and learn from the complicated histories of ‘race’, (anti-)racism and whiteness within feminist communities.

Here’s the full blurb about the conference:

Forthcoming Feminisms: Gender Activism, Politics and Theories
Organised by the BSA Gender Study Group & the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (CIGS), University of Leeds

26th October 2012: Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, University of Leeds

Keynote Speakers: Julia Downes (Durham); Imogen Tyler (Lancaster)

‘Forthcoming Feminisms: Gender Activism, Politics and Theories’ seeks to explore the contemporary landscape of gender politics and theory at a crucial moment of feminist resurgence. Against the backdrop of political economies of austerity, in which women are disproportionately disadvantaged, and in challenge to ‘post-feminist’ cultural prophecies, current times indicate a renewed interest in, and commitment to, feminism. In academic climates, while women’s and gender study programs face threats of closure, the popularity of such programmes continues to grow; reflecting the continuation of feminist and gender theory as a flourishing and dynamic arena. This conference speaks to these political and theoretical paradoxes and flows in exploring varied (and sometimes opposing) feminist cultures, values, ethics, knowledges, challenges and aspirations across the levels of the social and cultural.

The conference aims to examine these issues in relation to temporality: how do current feminisms speak to those of the past and how might we imagine feminisms’ future?; the micro and the macro: how do grass roots feminist politics respond to structural processes and materialities?; the local and global: what are the similarities and differences – the uniting and dividing features  – of national and international feminisms?; place and culture: how are feminisms formed through, and in opposition to, fields of habitus and spaces of public/private; citizenship and recognition: who can – and who can’t – find a place within feminism, who is – and who isn’t – able to ‘belong’?; equality and diversity: to what extent has feminism been mainstreamed?, what are the effects of this on gender studies and politics in and outside the academy?; intersectionality: how do social identities and material positionings impact on feminist commitments and lived experiences?, how do patterns of inequality bear on feminist aspirations and imaginings?; difference: how can feminism productively interact with trans and queer politics, theories, and communities?, how can feminism account for embodied diversities?

Papers will address questions of:

  • Sites of Activism
  • Political Agendas
  • Knowledges and Ethics
  • Spaces and Places
  • Gender Mainstreaming
  • Feminisms at the Local and Global
  • Intersections of Class, Race, Ethnicity, Faith, Age, Gender, Sexuality and Embodiment
  • Feminist Times and Generations
  • Agency and Affect
  • Political Economies
  • Inclusions and Exclusions
  • Transgender and Queer Feminisms
  • Representation, Media and New Technologies

You can register on the BSA website.

WhiteSpaces Postgraduate Network virtual seminar

Next week, the WhiteSpaces Postgraduate Network is running a week-long virtual seminar on their blog, En/countering Whiteness.

The title of the seminar is ‘Encountering Racism Down Under: Antipodean perspectives on the construction of tolerance and white sovereignty’and the reading set is Ghassan Hage (1998) ‘Good White Nationalists: The Tolerant Society as a White Fantasy’ and Aileen Moreton-Robinson and Fiona Nicoll (2006) ‘We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches: Protesting cultures of white possession’.

Follow the second link above to find out how to access the reading and take part in the discussion. I’m gonna have a go – never participated in an online seminar before but I like the idea!