The 4th International Conference on Women’s Studies 2018
“Women’s Studies: Gendered scholarship, activism, and storytelling for a sustainable planet”
Around the world two opposing trends are simultaneously emerging: 1) a revival and strengthening of feminisms, following more than a decade of assertions of a so-called post-feminist era, and 2) the rise of reactionary political and fundamentalist religious movements, globally. Are women’s gains through historical and contemporary women’s rights movements robust enough to be sustained and to grow while under threats from these forces?
As Women’s Studies scholars, teachers, and activists, it is our mission to resist backward movements and chart pathways forward. This year’s conference theme addresses the future of Women’s Studies, by highlighting the importance of bridging gaps between academia and practice, translating theory into meaningful and sustainable change, and exploring new understandings of persisting grievances, such as violence against women. Moreover, as we consider how to chart pathways forward, we are challenged to consider the ethics of conducting research on women and gender-diverse subjects, sharing other women’s stories, and reflecting on our own positionality throughout this process.
We must interrogate not only the conditions of others but ourselves as well: why do we as scholars and activists of women’s, gender, and sexual equality pursue our particular lines of research? From personal narratives with a humanities slant, to scientific research reports, Women’s Studies engages multiple forms of scholarship and storytelling that portray problems and potential solutions through feminist lenses. What pedagogical and didactic values does our work embody? What insights into social, political, economic, cultural, and other forms of change, or resistance to change, does our work encapsulate? What is the relationship between culture and gender inequality? What suffering, courage, and successes do our stories tell? What are the necessary discomforts we face and strive to overcome, for those of us privileged to advocate for ourselves and others, in researching and portraying the struggles and social movements of others? How are the social movements we research, linked to those we join? Additionally, given the very real threat to the maintenance of life on the planet as we live through a sixth extinction, we are particularly interested for participants to seek connections between their work and the pressing concerns of sustainability. The 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) found here: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/,
Building off of the discussions in WSWC 2017, the topic of this year’s 2018 WS conference asks us to examine critically the work we do in order to maximize our goals and expand our vision as we chart pathways to the future for Women’s Studies and feminism. Whether we work on contemporary problems of society or, environment, devote ourselves to the analysis of literature, history or the arts, how do we manifest the significance of WS in our efforts?
As you explore the potential topic areas, please ensure that you weave in those themes above that are most relevant to your work.
- Gender and sexual diversity
- Women’s Studies Curricula
- Challenges in pursuing Women’s Studies scholarship
- Feminist research methodologies in relation to activism
- The role of positionality in research and activism
- Women and educational—access and transformation
- Women, farming, and climate change
- Women, sanitation, and access to water
- Women and poverty
- Women and access to family planning
- Women and institutional representation
- Women’s Studies and the interrogation of masculinity
- Lessons from History
- Women in literature and the arts
- Telling women’s stories
- The nature of sisterhood
- Mixing and matching of ideas and ideologies