CFP: Women’s History Network Annual Conference 2015

Female Agency, Activism and Organisation

4-6 September 2015
University of Kent (Canterbury)
Abstract DEADLINE: 28 January 2015

We invite established scholars, postgraduate researchers, museum curators and media practitioners from a wide range of disciplines working in any geographical context and period to contribute to a dynamic discussion about female agency, activism and organisation. The conference theme, inspired by the 2015 centenary of the Women’s Institute, is to be interpreted broadly. It embraces all kinds of female organisation and agency from the local to the global; the individual to the collective. We are interested in how women have navigated, fought against, and sometimes upheld structures of patriarchy, power and privilege through time. We welcome papers that speak to one of these themes as well as those which connect across all three. We are looking to compile a conference programme that covers a broad temporal, methodological and geographical perspective.

  • Agency: This strand will be particularly interested in the interplay between agency and power – how have women interacted with systems of power from which they have traditionally been excluded, and how did women promote their own (individual and/or collective) interests within those broader structures. We are particularly interested in methodological issues here, and how we, as scholars of women in history, can leave space for female agency while recognising the structures of power within which the individual moves. As such, some themes that could be of interest include:
  • Freedom, negotiation, autonomy
  • Body, family, marriage
  • Power, society, professionalism
  • Agency and power in writing women’s history
  • Activism: As modern feminism heads increasingly towards the internet we are interested in looking at the history of female activism – at local, national and international levels. In what ways have female activists organised themselves, and around what issues? Is there such a thing as ‘women’s issues’? How has women’s activism been perceived and responded to? Some broad thematic areas for consideration include:
  • War, politics, economics
  • Culture, society, community
  • Rights, bodies, reproduction
  • Activism, organisation, cooperation
  • Organisation: Meanwhile, women have organised themselves variously through time – from churches, interest groups and philanthropic societies to broader organisations such as the women’s missionary movement, the suffragettes and indeed, the WI. How have women organised themselves and to what ends in history? Has the organisation of women significantly changed over time? Why have women felt the need to organise themselves independently of men? As such, some themes that could be of interest include:
  • Household, church, society
  • Interest groups, philanthropy and activism
  • Education, medicine, pedagogy
  • Individuals and collectives

Abstracts of c400 words to be submitted to womenshistorynetwork@kent.ac.uk by 28 January 2015

Conference organised by Anne Logan, Emily Manktelow and Juliette Pattinson