Sites of Feminist Memory: Remembering suffrage in Europe and the United States of America
A slow international e-conference
Dates: 7-11 June 2021
Dr Sharon Crozier-de Rosa (University of Wollongong), co-author of Remembering Women’s Activism, Routledge, 2019.
A new format
This conference was originally due to take place on 12 and 13 May 2020 in Aix-en-Provence, France. It was to bring together colleagues from Europe, the USA and Australia. As a result of the COVID pandemic, it has had to be both postponed by a year and moved online. Though we deeply regret not being able to meet with our colleagues in person, we see this migration online as an opportunity to try something new: a “slow” conference.
The original format was a traditional “fast” conference involving a tight schedule of back-to-back panels separated by brief (if invigorating!) coffee and lunch breaks, packed into an intense 48 hours. Replicating such a format online strikes us as simultaneously unfair to colleagues who are not in France’s time-zone and unattractive to… well, anyone, really: who wants to listen (assuming no one’s audio or video connection collapses in the middle of their talk) to back-to-back panels for 48 hours, even if in the comfort of their own homes/offices, without the attraction of invigorating coffee and lunch breaks in which to socialise and debate with other attendees?
Thus, rather than have a downgraded online version of an original “fast” conference, we propose to slow things down. Our conference, which will take place on a website open to participants only, will have three phases.
In phase one, participants will have until May 10th 2021 to send us their pre-recorded twenty-minute presentations and accompanying Powerpoint (or equivalent) slides. (Though our website can store video recordings, we would rather participants privileged audio recordings).
In phase two, participants will have one month, between the 10th of May and the 7th of June, to browse through the keynote address, panels and papers and post their questions for speakers on dedicated forums.
In phase three, which will take place from 7 to 11 June, we will hold no more than one panel “live” on Zoom each day: authors will answer the questions posted on the forums as well as subsequent questions posed by participants. We hope that the result will be a number of slow-moving but deep conversations developing over the course of the conference both within the confines of each panel and across them.
These panel discussions will be book-ended by two events, one to introduce conference goers to one another, the other to both sum up the discussions we will have had and to explore the possibilities of setting up a joint research project together.
Our first call for papers yielded particularly stimulating proposals involving literal sites of suffrage memory in Britain, the USA and France, discussions of the memorialisation of suffrage and suffragists in Turkey and Italy, and reflections on the effects for feminist history, theory and memory of memorial practices such as walking tours and digitisation.
We believe the changed format for our conference might entice other scholars to join us. Hence this second call for papers, the long version of which can be found below.
If you wish to submit a proposal, please send a 300 word abstract in English to Marc Calvini-Lefebvre (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Claire Sorin (email@example.com) by 08 February 2021.
Notification of acceptance will be given by 15 February 2021.
Please note that the language of the conference is English but papers in French can be submitted so long as they are accompanied by an English summary.
This conference is organised by the Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone (LERMA) of Aix-Marseille Université and supported by the Aix-Marseille Initiative d’Excellence (A*MIDEX)
Call for Papers
On April 24th 2018, suffragist leader Millicent Garrett Fawcett became the first woman to be honoured with a permanent statue in Parliament Square, one hundred and eighty six years after George Canning, the first of her 11 male predecessors. The unveiling was the culmination of a two-year campaign initiated by activist Caroline Criado Perez. The choice of Fawcett sparked vigorous debate amongst activists and academics alike. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the coming centenary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment has inspired #Monumental Women, a grassroots organization, to mount a campaign for the commissioning of a statue honouring the suffrage leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. This campaign also triggered vigorous accusations that the monument would “white wash” the suffrage past, accusations which resulted in the decision to add the African-American leader Sojourner Truth to the monument. It was unveiled on August 26, 2020 in Central Park, New York. Like Fawcett’s, it is the first statue of its kind in this most prestigious of public spaces.
These spectacular enshrinements of leading suffrage campaigners in such quintessential sites of national memory can be read as a form of apotheosis for a process begun by the suffrage campaigners themselves to inscribe the suffrage past into our built environments via statues and street names, commemorative plaques and memorial monuments, community cafés and communal libraries. Building on the very recent work of Vera Mackie and Sharon Crozier-de Rosa, interrogating the history and effects of that process of creation of literal ”Sites of Feminist Memory”, across Europe and the United States, in local, national and transnational settings, will be a central ambition of this conference. We thus invite papers which focus on such literal sites of feminist memory in Europe and the United States and fruitfully engage with the following themes:
- Where and why have literal sites of feminist memory appeared?
- What is their relation to surrounding “lieux de mémoires”and to “national” collective memory?
- Does the creation of these sites borrow from existing traditions of site-creation or is there anything distinctly “feminist” about this process?
- Are there only “national” or “local” sites of feminist memory or can transnational sites be identified?
- What effects on collective understandings of “feminism” and the “feminist” past do these sites have, if any?
- What consequences did/do they have on feminists’ collective memory?
- How did they shape feminist identities at the time of their creation?
- How do they shape them now, if at all?
- What affects are associated with these sites?
- How stable are the meanings attached to these sites over time?
The other ambition of this conference will be to ponder the more general question of the place of the suffrage past in what Maria Grever has called the ”Pantheon of Feminist Culture”. She meant by this a loose and evolving collection of ”sites of memory” in the sense of Pierre Nora, that is a set of ”leaders, historical events, monuments, rituals, symbols, images, founding texts and historiography” which become iconic and are drawn on by feminists to justify their struggles and identities to themselves, to each other and to their enemies. As the controversies surrounding the statues in London and New York have highlighted, the suffrage past’s place in that Pantheon is hotly contested. Here, we welcome papers which focus on specific suffrage leaders, events, texts, symbols, and images as contested “sites of feminist memory” in Europe and the United States and which explore some of the following themes:
- How have these sites of feminist memory emerged?
- What has been at stake in their memorialisation?
- How has historical research contributed to or undermined memorial narratives about these sites?
- Has the place of these sites in the Pantheon of Feminist Culture remained constant or ebbed and flowed? Why? And with what effect, if any, on public memory of the suffrage campaigns?
- Can transnational sites be identified? Or are these inescapably national?
- What affects are associated with these sites and their contestation?
It is envisaged that the conference will result in a publication and the constitution of a research network with a view to bidding for international, particularly European, funding.
 A statue commemorating the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst was erected in 1930 in Victoria Tower Gardens which run alongside the Houses of Parliament but do not face them as does Parliament Square.
 Hilda Kean, ‘Searching for the Past in Present Defeat:The Construction of Historical and Political Identity in British Feminism in the 1920s and 1930s’, Women’s History Review 3, no. 1 (1994): 57–80; Hilda Kean, ‘Public History and Popular Memory: Issues in the Commemoration of the British Militant Suffrage Campaign’, Women’s History Review 14, no. 3 & 4 (2005): 581–602; Laura E. Nym Mayhall, ‘Creating the “Suffragette Spirit”: British Feminism and the Historical Imagination’, Women’s History Review 4, no. 3 (1995): 319–44.
 Sharon Crozier-De Rosa, Remembering Women’s Activism (London : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2019), especially chapter 1.
 Maria Grever, ‘Rivals in Historical Remembrance: Wollstonecraft and Holy Women as “Loci” of Feminist Memory’, The European Journal of Women’s Studies 3 (1996): 101–13.
 Pierre Nora, ‘Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire’, Representations, no. 26 (1989): 7–24, https://doi.org/10.2307/2928520.
 Maria Grever, ‘The Pantheon of Feminist Culture: Women’s Movements and the Organization of Memory’, Gender & History 9, no. 2 (August 1997).
 Ibid, p. 101
 Lisa Tetrault, Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Marc Calvini-Lefebvre, ‘The Great War in the History of British Feminism: Debates and Controversies, 1914 to the Present’, Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique [Online] XX, no. 1 (2015), https://doi.org/10.4000/rfcb.310.