Women’s Liberation Movements at Birkbeck

Birkbeck Institute for Social Research Spring term

‘Conflict and Collaboration: Women’s Liberation Movements in Historical and Comparative Perspective’
This colloquium seeks to document and analyse the Women’s Liberation Movements (WLMs) of the 1970s. Women’s Liberation created new networks for political and personal collaboration that aimed at redressing disparities in women’s pay, social status and professional opportunity, and sought to transform personal life and intimate relationships. Pioneering feminist theory emanating from WLMs brought issues of sexuality, reproduction, the family, race, and violence to the attention of women and men in dozens of countries. By the 1980s, though, WLMs had fragmented, and noticeable factions within feminism replaced its earlier unity and sense of purpose. This colloquium will feature discussions of the significance and impact of WLMs in England, Norway, Scotland, and the United States. Topics for discussion will range from the empirical to the historiographical, and may include but not be limited to the following:

• How have historians and sociologists approached the task of documenting Women’s Liberation?
• What are the unique questions and concerns of each national movement?
• What are the features of the relationship between historians, sociologists and WLM activists? How can oral
histories with feminists active in the 1970s assist our understanding of politics in the 1970s and 1980s?
• Which ‘voices’ from Women’s Liberation are most often heard, and which are the least often featured/remembered in WLM histories?
• How can we assess the impact of Women’s Liberation on popular and official attitudes about the roles of women?

Speakers:  Sarah F. Browne (University of Dundee), Sue Bruley (University of Portsmouth), Rachel Cohen (The Women’s Library/ Westminster University), Hilde Danielsen (University of Bergen), Anna Davin  (History Workshop Journal), Synnøve Lindtner (University of Bergen), Line Nyhagen Predelli (Loughborough University), Jeska Rees (Birkbeck, University of London), Sasha Roseneil (Birkbeck, University of London)

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