Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik, Croatia
23-27 May 2011

The intellectual impulse for the fifth feminist course in the seminar on Feminisms in transnational perspective (Dubrovnik, 23–27 May, 2011) comes from Hannah Arendt’s statement that “lives without words and action are dead for the world”. Extensive scholarship has established links between gender and genre in women’s (auto)biographical discourses, while feminist theorizing has offered political and activist perspectives on the wider socio-cultural frame of positing, producing, communicating, and manipulating women’s self-representations.

The exploration of autobiographical ethics and “first-person plural subjectivities” involved in national identity formation in turbulent times and politically charged contexts has been particularly fruitful. Now we may ask, how do the contexts and communitarian vocabularies of selfhood intervene in pervasive neoliberal structures of power/knowledge and capitalist reification in the transnational negotiation of feminisms?

A challenge for feminist theory and practice is how to find forms to enunciate the dignified, empowered and desire-driven, but also forbidden, shocking, and traumatized women’s voices demanding truth and justice?

On the one hand, the “testimonial turn” in the study of women’s life writing has shifted our focus to the forces that contribute to the interplay of emancipation and liberation with subordination that expose the trauma to which a witness may speak or write in public. Testimonies, although contested and often manipulated by persons and situations, importantly contribute to subverting essentialized discourses of identity and prejudices of (meta)cultural representation in the validation of victimized communities.

On the other hand, emergent practices of women’s self-authoring through community art, social forums, public hearings, artistic performances, and new media signal creative prospects for the future.

Call for proposals [PDF]