The 8th Feminist conference, hosted by the CEU (Central European University) Gender Studies Department and AtGender, The European Association for Gender Research, Education, came to an end last Sunday. With more than 500 participants from across Europe and other parts of the world, it is the largest feminist conference in Budapest, since the 1913 Congress of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. The program of the conference featured two pictures of this 1913 Congress supplied by our own archive!
We returned with a full head and a full suitcase… Choosing from the extensive program alone is a challenge in itself, with 14 strands and over 400 papers on all aspects of feminist research. It is like picking the cherries out of a big feminist cake! Panels ranged from ‘turns in feminist theory’, to ‘crossroads of race and gender’, and from ‘feminism in the 20th century’ to ‘religion revisited’. On top of that: book and poster presentations, network cocktails and a feminist film festival. Almost too much, but let’s start at the beginning.
In her opening speech Jasmina Lukic addressed the difficult times for Europe right now, because of the current global economic crisis, which effect men and women differently, with women being 70% of the poor globally. The political backlash has also strengthened conservative, rightwing, populist and extremist reactions in many European countries, threatening to reverse gains made in women’s position since the 1970s. And Lukic was not the only one to address the worries about women’s position. In her opening keynote ‘Parallel feminisms and a common goal’, Hanna Havelková discussed recent feminist research on the communist past, with a focus on the question of the (non) existence of feminist ideology in state socialist life, and the impact of the absence of radical feminism.
Of course we were not just listening to others, but presenting as well! Aletta was represented by 3 staff members. Former director Saskia Wieringa analyzed her experiences as a feminist anthropologist, researching sexual politics, women’s agency and Sapphic histories. She also addressed methodological and practical issues regarding an oral history program of videotaped oral histories at Aletta Institute. In a panel, chaired by Mieke Verloo, we, Tilly Vriend en Sara de Jong, presented the FRAGEN database of core feminist texts in Europe and discussed challenges in the selection and coding of the texts. Reka Saffrany from Mona documentation centre (Budapest) addressed the Hungarian selection procedure. Moreover Sara de Jong presented the findings of the EU funded Neskak Gora project which analyzed the experiences of discrimination and violence of young second generation migrant women between 12-21 from North-African and South-Asian descent in six European countries.
Icing on the Cake
But in the end, the icing on the (feminist) cake is the networking and meeting of colleagues and friends from around the world. We used the opportunity to meet up with our international colleagues: representatives of Women and Gender Information centers in Europe, who are members of WINE, the Women’s Information Network Europe..but also with many more. So we return home with a head full of impressions, a bag full of business cards of new contacts and some brand new books given to us by other conference delegates which will soon be catalogued and available from our library!
Tilly Vriend, Coordinator Databases, Senior Project Manager and Sara de Jong, Researcher