Professional development workshop at the 2018 BAM conference: Working at the intersection of academia, archiving and activism.
On the 4th September representatives from the Feminist Library (FL) in London, Gail Chester and Magda Oldziejewska, alongside Feminist Archive North’s (FAN) Jalna Hanmer, and academics from St Andrews, Aston, Birmingham and Stirling Universities, participated in a workshop as part of the BAM 2018 conference at Bristol’s University of the West of England. The Library, along with FAN, introduced feminist libraries and archives (FLA) in the UK and talked about some of the unique practices of these organisations.
The FL, having been around since 1975, the height of the Women’s Liberation Movement, has since accumulated over 7,000 books, 1,500 periodical titles and countless items of archival material and ephemera, among them innumerable titles on women in education, feminist educational practices, women in management and business.
FAN archive contains a wealth of contemporary material in local, regional, national and international collections donated by individuals and organisations, including conference papers, pamphlets, journals, newsletters, dissertations, oral history interviews, audio tapes, films, posters, badges, t-shirts and banners.
However, far from these being like regular libraries and archives, the importance of understanding the FLA resources in the context of where they come from was highlighted, i.e. the feminist theories and practices key to the management and survival of these resources: collective working, intersectionality, diversity, and a focus on accessibility.
The stimulating resulting discussion focused on the importance of preserving/uncovering the lesser known/hidden voices of women, and at least one attendee was inspired to conduct her own research into this under-explored area, focusing on women’s work in Turkey in the Middle Ages. We were also encouraged to continue the conversation with the other contributors in the lunch break afterwards, and we are hopeful that further collaborations will result out of these discussions.