Feminisms Here & Now: Continuities and Contradictions
Co-chairing the FHN18 conference allowed me to use my skills and to gain new experiences in leadership within an academic setting.
The Feminisms Here & Now Conference was started in 2015 by graduate students in the UNC Chapel Hill Department of Communication. This year, we added a Spring Speaker Series and opened participation in conference planning to any UNC-CH graduate students interested in working on FHN. The 2018 conference was co-chaired by graduate students from the Department of Communication and the Department of Geography with planning committee members from multiple additional departments.
The conference co-chairs invited faculty speakers, local community organizations, and performers to this year's conference to include a broad range of approaches to feminist work including scholarship, activism, art, and community organizing. The schedule was arranged to decenter a typical academic focus and invite engagement with practitioner approaches. In addition, the conference co-chairs raised all the funds for the conference. With the generous support of our sponsors and the dedicated work of our planning committee we were able to include 16 competitively selected conference panels, a performance based keynote with a cocktail reception, and a networking lunch where attendees and participants could engage around the conference discussions.
"Thanks to the #FHN18 organizers & speakers for a thought-provoking conference! I feel moved (especially by that @biglovely1 performance), challenged in a productive way, and proud of myself for finding a voice" -- tweet from conference attendee
FHN 18 Conference Theme
Continuities and Contradictions – builds on our two prior themes, “An Interdisciplinary Conversation” and “Alongside | Across | Against,” by taking up the notion that often as academics, activists, and people interested in feminisms, womanism, equity and justice, we must come together from very different frameworks of experience and belief to work toward our goals. To do this work, it is often essential that we hold many – often different, contradictory, or even paradoxical, ideas and truths in our hands, hearts, and minds simultaneously. Thus, we must navigate our continuities and contradictions.
This navigation is complicated and risky particularly in this era of regressive politics. We are experiencing continual systematic legislative and judicial attacks across multiple fronts including human rights, voting rights, free speech, racial justice, reproductive justice, LGBTQIA rights, economic justice, indigenous rights, and environmental justice, and many other urgent concerns. All of these issues demand our attention and action. Activism in response to these issues has been long standing but now rises into public consciousness through movements such as Black Lives Matter, the fight for clean water at Standing Rock, the Women’s March, the Not One More, the Me Too, and the Time’s Up campaigns. Moreover, social media and digital platforms ensure that these types of feminist discussions are occurring across not simply local or national contexts but globally. This seeming eruption of activism and resistance highlights the urgent need for feminists to explore tensions between the popular consciousness and the ongoing daily efforts of feminist activists, academics, and authors.
Thus the theme, “Continuities and Contradictions” is meant to examine the necessity of feminisms and for feminists to move forward together without homogenizing or resolving our differences but instead valuing our complexities and contributions as essential to forging a different and more just world.
Here and now, we ask:
· What does it mean to value our differences as not only necessary but also as the deep strength and generative force from which our (feminist) world making stems?
· How do we bridge multiple different theoretical, activist, and quotidian approaches including academic feminisms, on the ground organizing / activism, and engaging with the problematics and benefits of pop-feminism?
· Which tools, constructs, and theories help us to hold onto the complexities of our experiences while simultaneously keeping an eye to the tensions between daily living and structural challenges, the local and the global, and the systemic and the individual?
· Where or at what points can we work across the academic, the activist, and the popular to steer a new course into the future?
· How do we address feminisms’ own histories of complicity with systems of power and of producing and reproducing white, western hetero-patriarchal structures of oppression within and across feminist spaces, groups, organizations, and activity?