Review: Feminist Erasures. Challenging Backlash Culture.

9781137454911In many ways Feminist Erasures: Challenging Backlash Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) performs an act of vigilance. Examining the conditions of feminist apathy and misrepresentation in public discourses — precisely in order to disrupt them –the analytical sweep of this edited collection is wide: taking in screen culture, the organization of labour, reports from the frontlines of gender studies classrooms, and feminist protest. Feminist Erasures’ main contribution to the growing field of  postfeminist critique lays in its commitment to bringing feminist encounters centre stage. This volume of essays doesn’t just map the ways in which feminism and gender inequalities are sidelined or emptied out in the West; it also tracks how scholars are resisting these moves in their feminist praxis.

The editors bringing this thirteen-essay anthology to life are Kumarini Silva and Kaitlynn Mendes (Mendes wrote Feminism in the News and has a book on SlutWalk coming out in the summer). The contributors are largely early career researchers, with a nice mix of academic-activists in the blend. As an indication of the scope of this book, the largest section of essays is dedicated to ‘Feminism in Popular Culture’, bookended by ‘Teaching Feminism’ and ‘Becoming Mother’ – the latter including a compelling chapter by Silva on the politics of breastfeeding, as mediated through commercial and media discourses. The final section ‘Feminism/Activism’ hones in on the transnational SlutWalk movement with thought-provoking reflections and participant-based responses. While lively reads (and my favourite part of the book), the two essays dedicated to feminist protest in Feminist Erasures, was a start, but we need more. Feminist activism is still largely under-theorized in contemporary feminist scholarship.

The driving argument behind Feminist Erasures is that we live in an era of ‘faux feminism’, where late capitalism makes claims to women’s empowerment so as to commodify and neutralize its power. It’s an ongoing tactic. As the editors write in their introduction, “political discourses join the popular in appropriating the language of feminist liberation and empowerment in the construction of an essentializing feminism that re-marginalizes and domesticates women. That is, in fact, the definition of a backlash culture: a negative reaction to the possibility of progress and/or change” (p. 4).

The main theoretical coordinate for the collection is provided through reference to Angela McRobbie and The Aftermath of Feminism. Arguably, more could have been made of Ros Gill’s postfeminist sensibility. Although strategically, I can see why this might not be the case. Feminist Erasures has a slight manifesto edge to it and the conceptual lines are drawn around ‘erasures’ and ‘backlash’. The postfeminist sensibility speaks more to entangled subjectivities and the central role of neoliberalism in contemporary gender formations. Neoliberalism is tackled in the pages of Feminist Erasures, but primarily in its economic-based form; such as the role of transient academic workers in contemporary higher education and the mystification of structural inequalities in the face of so-much consumer ‘choice’.

Readers of a poststructuralist persuasion might wish to linger a little longer on the idea of ‘erasure’ and ‘backlash’. These ideas certainly have a rhetorical –and material –importance in the face of feminism’s continuing dismantling. But arguably, a ‘backlash’ trope may obscure the forms of pleasure that accompany the commercial-made feminism available for public sale, as well as glossing over how mainstream culture incorporates the ‘feel’ of feminism, if not the explicit politics. McRobbie’s idea of the ‘double entanglement’ may be a handy theoretical rejoinder here.

All in all Feminist Erasure is a refreshing anthology, not least because it carries a strong academic-activist perspective. This book also prompts important questions: how do we theorize attacks on feminism, while also recognizing the new grip that feminism has in the public imagination? Who are the storytellers of the new feminisms, and who are the gatekeepers of the old sexisms? And just how can new affinities be made in the realm of teaching, popular culture, and activism which can bring back a creative, fighting and game-changing articulation of feminism as a collective politics and a collective promise? Feminist Erasures is a thought-provoking partner in these ongoing conversations.

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Video: F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Use Bad Words for a Good Cause

I must admit, this made me laugh!

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See Red Women’s Workshop – collecting memories

See Red Women’s Workshop – collecting memories

Posted: 17 Feb 2015 06:09 AM PST

“Founders and later members of the British feminist poster collective, See Red Women’s Workshop (1974-1990) are involved with putting a book together about the posters and we are hoping to gather a collection of memories from women who were involved at some time (many women passed through the workshop), or who particularly remember the posters otherwise. If you are one of those women, do please get in touch with us. Or please forward to your friends and networks otherwise.
To jog your memory here’s a link to the website we are also slowly putting together.
Much appreciated! As would any ideas about other mailing lists to send this call round to.
Pru, Suzy, Bronnie, Anne and Jess”
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cfp: Motherhood and creative practice: Maternal structures in creative work (conference, June 2015)

From my inbox:

Call for Papers

Motherhood and creative practice: Maternal structures in creative work

June 1-2, 2015

Centre for Media and Culture Research, School of Arts and Creative Industries, London South Bank University

The call for papers submission deadline has been extended to 4 March 2015.

Confirmed Key Note Speakers:

Professor Bracha L. Ettinger, Marcel Duchamp Chair & Professor of Psychoanalysis and Art at the European Graduate School

Professor Mary Kelly Distinguished Professor and Head of the Interdisciplinary Studio Area in the Department of Art at UCLA

Professor Faith Wilding Professor Emerita of Performance at SAIC; and a Visiting Scholar at the Pembroke Center for Feminist Research at Brown University, Providence, RI

Conference Discussant:

Professor Griselda Pollock , Director of Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory, History, University of Leeds, UK

Motherhood and creative practices: Maternal structures in creative work is an international and interdisciplinary conference that addresses ongoing debates about hospitality, solidarity and encounter as concepts in creative practice, and how they relate to contemporary issues of mothering. Mothering involves commitment to creative balance and combining everyday chores. We are interested how practitioners combine art and mothering, activism and mothering, academia and mothering, science and mothering, mothering and allomothering. The conference will look at practices where the creative exploration, writing and theory about the mOther cannot be separated from one another. Ettinger reveals the intricate connections between critical theory on maternal and creative practice. According to Vigneault, the porous spaces of work that engages with the maternal as concept presents passageways which allow the viewer and reader to move through and between the various levels of text and image, theory and art, in a constant shift between modes of production (2009:69). There is a gradual, yet sustained increase in creative practices which, starting from the challenges posed by the above concepts, explore the maternal in various encounter-event formations. The conference will also look into female experiences and sexual lifestyles that explore the encounters of infertility, medical intervention, adoption and fostering, queer mothering and childlessness by choice or not. We invite scholars and artists to also explore the creative embodiment of intergenerational trauma and the complex territory of mother-daughter relationships, and bring into dialogue social, scientific and artistic perspectives.

The conference will also encompass the exhibition “Alternative Maternals” curated by Laura Gonzalez, a curated performance section led by Faith Wilding’s performative reading of her memoirs, and a post-graduate discussion room. The post-graduate room will be enriched with performative texts, films, visual and audio works (we strongly encourage postgraduate students to send proposals and abstracts).

This conference aims to reflect on theoretical, methodological and artistic work that may throw light on motherhood and creative practice. We welcome submissions from scholars, students, artists, mothers and others who research in this area. Cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and comparative work is encouraged. We are open to a variety of submissions including academic papers from all disciplines and creative submissions including visual art, literature, and performance art/performative lectures. We invite papers in English of 15 minutes length, with possible topics including but are not restricted to the above description. We welcome abstracts and proposals for practice-based, creative presentations (300 – 400 words + up to 3 images for practical presentations+ 100 word bio) on a broad range of approaches to the above and related topics.

Abstract and Proposals are to be submitted no later than Wed 4 March 2015, to Dr Elena Marchevska using the following email: Proposers will be informed by 6 March 2015 whether their proposal has been accepted.

Conference blog:

Conference Registration A full registration fee includes morning and afternoon break refreshments, two lunches, free entry to exhibition and performances and conference reception event.

Full Conference Early Bird (by 1 May) £120.00

Full Conference £180.00

Full Conference Postgraduate/Unwaged £65.00

Day Rate Monday 1st June only £80.00

Registration for conference will open online on 20 February 2015.

This conference is supported by the Center for Media and Culture Research and the School of Arts and Creative Industries at London South Bank University.

Note: The conference organisers are please to confirm that the London South Bank University crèche will be able to offer childcare facilities on campus throughout the conference. In order to ensure that they can cater to the needs of participants and their children, the crèche require all parents/guardians who are interested in using this service to send email request to before 5 March 2015.

* Please note that there will be a small charge for this service.

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Black British Feminism: Past, Present & Futures March 2015

From my inbox:




As an individual committed to equality and justice, it is with great pleasure that we invite you to attend ‘Black British Feminism: Past, Present and Futures’.

In collaboration with the Black Cultural Archives and Chardine Taylor-Stone, this one-day conference trace black feminist journeys and legacies into the present. Centred on intergenerational dialogue, the interactive programme encourages reflection, celebration and a return to an activist-centred movement.

In particular we are keen to invite you to attend the interactive evening elements of the programme.



Breaking out of the traditional workshop format, five wisdom circles will take place around the room facilitated by cross-generational black feminist activists. Each circle will facilitate a dialogue on a different topic, encouraging participants to listen and contribute to a crosspollination of ideas in a fluid and safe space. Wisdom Circles are an ancient way in which indigenous peoples came together in sacred circles to learn from each other how to survive, hope and dream.

Topics: Grassroots organising, queer activism, violence against women, mental health, challenging anti-blackness in non-black People of Colour communities and wellness and healing in transformatory work.

Please note that the wisdom circles are only open to Women/QTI of Colour.


An open floor discussion on how the current wave of Black Feminism is defining its voice, its ideals and activism today. A panel will be present but incorporating a “Question Time” style format we strongly encourage discussion amongst all on the floor and on social media.

Chair: Nydia Swaby

Panelists: Liz Obi, Chardine Taylor-Stone, Ikamara Larasi and Dr Joan Anim-Addo (other panelists tbc).


Register now.

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cfp: An Intergenerational Feminist Media Studies: Conflicts and Connectivities

An Intergenerational Feminist Media Studies: Conflicts and Connectivities

A special anniversary issue of Feminist Media Studies

Edited by Jessalynn Keller, Jo Littler and Alison Winch

This special 15th anniversary issue of Feminist Media Studies will explore the interconnections between different generations of women and girls in the contemporary media landscape, building upon several successful roundtables we convened around this topic in London in autumn 2014.

While feminism has become increasingly visible within western popular media cultures over the past few years, little scholarly attention has been paid to the ways in which age and generation shape mediated conversations about feminist politics globally. This collection will address this oversight, aiming to problematize dominant media representations of intergenerational “catfights” and feminist “bickering,” while simultaneously interrogating the ways in which mediated conflicts and connectivities shape the potential to work together to enact feminist social change.

We ask: What kind of shared conversations do women have across age groups and how do these circulate in media cultures in various global contexts? How can intergenerational alliances be built while still remaining sensitive to differences of experience? How are feminist connections being formed via digital media technologies and platforms? How do new forms of mediated activism over sexual violence, queerness, racism, and social reproduction relate to those of their predecessors?  How is feminist conflict mediated and how might it operate productively? How do particular issues such as “sexualisation” become indicative of intergenerational conflict?

Considering these questions in relation to the growth of feminist media studies over the past fifteen years, this issue will simultaneously foreground how feminist media studies can contribute, and how it has contributed, to an understanding of such intergenerationality. How do different generations of feminist media scholars talk to each other? What impediments arise in these conversations? How do geographical and cultural locations impact these conversations? How do we theorize these generational divides and dialogues? Does an effective intergenerational feminist media studies exist, or do we need to invent or extend it?

Possible paper themes might include, but are not restricted to:

·      the mediation of age and ageing

·      feminist alliances within austerity and neoliberalism

·      feminist ‘waves’ in transnational contexts

·      intergenerational activism challenging global power inequalities

·      the mediation of feminist conflict and crisis

·      intersections of ‘race’, class, sexuality and generation

·      generational politics within digital media cultures and practices

·      queering feminist media studies

·      the legacies of feminist anti-racism

·      boys and men as feminist allies

·      feminist girls

Please send 400-600 word abstracts and a 100-word bio by 15th February 2015 to Jessalynn Keller (, Alison Winch ( and Jo Littler (

Final papers will be no more than 8,000 words and will be due 1st September 2015. Information about Feminist Media Studies can be found here:

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cfp: Amateur Creativity: Inter-disciplinary Perspectives

International Symposium 17-18 September 2015, University of Warwick, UK

Amateur Creativity:  Inter-disciplinary Perspectives

Amateur creativity is enjoying renewed vitality in the twenty-first century, reflecting deep cultural changes. Amateur performers, critics, authors and musicians can reach global audiences through blogs, youtube, ebooks and many other forms of social media, a cultural practice set to increase as digital technology becomes increasingly accessible. There is a revival of interest in folk art and craft, with some amateur bakers, knitters and gardeners becoming TV celebrities and others turning their skills to guerrilla performance, slow art or political activism. Organisations that have long supported amateur creativity, such as the Women’s Institute, The National Allotment Society, The Embroiders Guild and National Operatic and Dramatic Society are thriving, with many gaining new and younger members. Disaporic communities often maintain links with the cultural traditions and heritage of ‘home’ through craft and different forms of performance, many of which exist outside the boundaries associated with professional activity in the West. Amateur creativity in the twenty-first century is redefining what it means to be a professional, with profound cultural consequences.

In the academy there is a resurgence of interest in amateur creativity, regarded as a vital alternative to the commodified creative industries and to forms of cultural practice that reflect only the tastes of the metropolitan élite.  At the same time, the parameters of professional researcher are becoming porous, as amateur researchers are encouraged to gather data, shape research agendas and become co-producers of knowledge. The twenty-first century is set to loosen the idea of amateurism from its association with the ‘unprofessional’, and to reassert the significance of amateur creativity to communities, individuals and the wider ecologies of cultural participation. This inter-disciplinary symposium, part of the AHRC funded project, Amateur Dramatics: Crafting Communities in Time and Space, led by Helen Nicholson (Royal Holloway, University of London),

Nadine Holdsworth (University of Warwick) and Jane Milling (University of Exeter) aims to challenge perceptions of amateur creativity and contribute to debates about the cultural significance of the amateur.

This symposium will bring together researchers from different disciplinary perspectives. We invite contributions from academics in many fields, including: cultural geography, sociology, medical humanities, science, cultural policy, philosophy, music, dance, visual arts, theatre and performance, history and anthropology. Papers may address any aspect of amateur creativity, such as:

·      Spaces and places of amateur creativity

·      Philosophies of the amateur and amateurism

·      Historical perspectives on amateur creativity

·      Amateur creativity in cultural policy

·      Amateur creativity and judgements of taste

·      Entertainment and amateur creativity

·      Amateurism and celebrity

·      Amateurs as political activists

·      Amateurism and affective labour

·      Citizen-artists, citizen scientists and co-production of knowledge

·      Amateur responses to heritage and tradition.

Proposals of between 250-300 words for 20-minute papers, 10-minute provocations, research posters or roundtable discussions are invited by 30th January 2015. Proposals and further inquiries can be addressed to Nadine Holdsworth at<>, and further details about the project are at:

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