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Making Women's History: Feminist Archives and the Stories They Tell

  • University of Nottingham A1 Highfield House Univeristy Park Campus Nottingham (map)
Image credit: University of Nottingham

Image credit: University of Nottingham

Kate’s talk examines the role of feminist archives in making women’s history. In particular, she’s interested in the continued appeal of ‘traditional’ archives in a digital age, and how archives can help us find different ways to narrate the story of twentieth-century feminism that move beyond the problematic metaphor of the wave that pits each generation of feminists against their predecessors. The talk explores alternative ways to make feminist histories of feminist archives that and suggests a method focused less on curating or narrating the stories themselves and more on the politics and process of their production. This is then, not so much a call for more, and more diverse archive stories, but rather for greater attention to how we tell these stories and how we might tell them differently in the future.  I’ve been exploring some of these possibilities in a collaborative project called Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures. Based in Leeds, this project involves working with women’s libraries, feminist archives, donors, activists, filmmakers and scholars from around the U.K to think about how archives document the production of their own histories. The talk will include clips of documentary films made by feminist filmmakers in the 1980s as well a sneak peak at the archive in the making: video interviews in which the makers, curators and users of feminist archives tell us what they mean to them.

Kate Dossett is a historian of women’s and gender history at the University of Leeds where she leads an international and collaborative project Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures (FAFF), FAFF examines the histories of Feminist Archives and Women’s Libraries and their relationship to history making and feminist activism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She is also interested in black drama and theatre archives and is writing a book on Radical Black Theatre in 1930s America. Her 2008 book, Bridging Race Divides: Feminism, Nationalism and Integration, 1896-1935 was awarded the 2009 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize by the Southern Association of Women Historians.

Free, open to all, but please register: