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New Directions in the History of the British Women’s Liberation Movement

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All Souls College

High Street

Oxford

OX1 4AL

United Kingdom

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As austerity and right-wing politics have drawn campaigns to defend women’s rights to the fore, scholars and activists have turned to feminism’s recent past. Discussions of women’s bodily autonomy, their experiences of domestic and sexual violence, and their involvement in paid and unpaid labour have stimulated increased interest in the history of the British women’s liberation movement, active from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Recent scholarship has reflected upon the political and intellectual dynamism of this activism, acknowledging contemporary resonances while seeking to understand the movement on its own terms. It is timely, then, to examine how this developing body of work has situated issues of sexuality, race and place; how these concerns intersected and interacted with other social movements of the period; and how historians can navigate the diverse and sometimes conflicting stances taken by a rarely cohesive movement.


This one-day workshop, hosted at All Souls College, University of Oxford and organised with the support of the Centre for Gender, Identity and Subjectivity will draw together historians working on the women’s liberation movement in Britain. With papers on a range of subjects—from Socialist-Feminism to Thatcherism, from Existentialism to the Black Women’s Movement—and a session featuring feminist activists, past and present, this workshop will explore the ways in which historians approach such recent and relevant histories.


Researchers at any stage of their career, based at any institution, are warmly invited, although spaces are limited so please only sign up if you are sure you can attend.


PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME

9.45 Coffee and registration

10.15 Welcome and introduction

10.30 Panel One: The Women’s Liberation Movement and Selfhood

  • Kate Mahoney, University of Warwick: The Women’s Therapy Centre: Promoting Feminist Therapy to ‘Non-movement’ Women, 1976-1995.
  • Kate Turner, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Constructing Feminist Selfhood: Second-Wave Feminism and Popular Existentialism in the 1960s and 70s.
  • Ruth Lindley, University of Birmingham: The Goddess and the Second-Wave: Political Spirituality and Feminist History.

Chair: Rene Verma, University of Oxford

12.00 Lunch

13.00 Panel Two: Feminism, Women and Politics

  • Dr Sue Bruley, University of Portsmouth: Women’s Voice, The Rise and Fall of a Socialist –Feminist paper, 1971-1982.
  • Dr Laura Beers, University of Birmingham: An inadvertent embrace? The role of Thatcherism in pushing WLM women into Labour’s arms.
  • Dr Chris Moores, University of Birmingham: Against Liberation: Moral Conservatism and the Challenge of Liberation
  • Dr Alana Harris, King’s College London: “It felt for me like one of the early Women’s Liberation Conferences”: OWAAD, Black Solidarity and Memories of the Black Women’s Movement.

Chair: Yen Pham, University of Oxford

15.00 Coffee

15.30 Panel Three: The Women’s Liberation Movement, the International and Government

  • Dr Emma Lundin, Queen Mary University of London: Feminism beyond borders: the 1970s from South Africa to Sweden
  • Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley, University of Southampton: United Women, Untied Nations: The British WLM and the UN ‘Decade for Women’.

Chair: Emily Cousens, Oxford Brookes University

16.30 Short break

17.00 Speaker Session: Feminist Activism Past and Present

  • Dr Gail Lewis, (Birkbeck, University of London) is a sociologist specialising in race and gender. She was a long-standing member of Brixton Black Women's Group and a co-founder of the Organisation for Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD).
  • Professor Sally Alexander (Goldsmiths, University of London) works on the history of psychoanalysis in Britain, the history of feminism and social movements. She was an organiser of the first national WLM conference, held at Ruskin College in 1970, and was a member of several groups in the London Women’s Liberation Workshop.
  • Dr Faiza Shaheen is the director of thinktank CLASS (Centre for Labour and Social Studies). She is an economist, writer, activist and commentator, having covered the most salient social and economic debates of our times—including inequality, austerity, immigration, youth unemployment, and gender—in her writings and as a contributor to news debates.

18.45-19.15 Wine Reception

Date and Time

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All Souls College

High Street

Oxford

OX1 4AL

United Kingdom

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