CfP: Women’s Organisations and Female Activists in the Aftermath of the First World War: Moving Across Borders (event: May 2012, Minnesota/USA), DL: 15.12.2011

Supported by a network grant from the UK-based Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Venue: Hamline University, St Paul, Minnesota, USA
Time: 26th to 28th May 2012 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Deadline for proposals: December 15, 2011

Recent developments in the social and cultural history of modern warfare have done much to shed new light on the experience of the First World War, and in particular how that experience was communicated in popular and high culture, and in acts of remembrance and commemoration after 1918. The post-war period (ca 1918-1923) is distinctive, both within individual nations and as a point of international comparison. ?It is characterised by the often troubled transition from a wartime to a peacetime society, continued conflicts over the repatriation of refugees and POWs; revolutionary and counter- revolutionary violence in parts of central Europe; and new ethnic and national conflicts arising from the collapse of the former Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires, and the cultural anxieties that surrounded these events. Within this context, the role of organised women’s movements and female activists in the post-war period takes on a new importance.

The aim of this conference is to explore major comparative themes such as citizenship, suffrage, nationalism, and women’s desire to respond to extremes of need in the post-war era (dislocation, internment, violence and hunger) from a national, international and transnational perspective. It will examine the work of organisations and individuals able to move across international borders, such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) or the journalist Eleanor Franklin Egan, who reported on social conditions throughout post-war Europe. The role of such women and organisations in bringing about reconciliation and facilitating cooperation between former enemy nations (cultural demobilisation, ‘the dismantlement of the mindsets and values of wartime’—John Horne) will also be examined, as will the role of nationalist women’s organisations in perpetuating discourses of war and in facilitating the rise of new forms of ethno-nationalism and racial intolerance (‘cultural remobilisation’) during the period 1918-1923.

This conference is the third in a series. The first conference, „The Gentler Sex: Responses of the Women’s Movement to the First World War, 1914-1919“, London, held in 2005, was followed in 2008 with „Aftermaths of War: Women’s Movements and Female Activists 1918-1923“, Leeds. Publications arising from the earlier conferences include special issues of „Minerva: Journal of Women and War“ and two edited volumes: Fell, A.S. and Sharp, I.E. (eds) „The Women’s Movement in Wartime. International Perspectives 1914-1919“ (Palgrave Macmillan 2007) and Sharp, I.E and Stibbe, M. (eds) „Aftermaths of War: Women’s Movements and Female Activists, 1918-1923“ (Brill 2011).

The Hamline Conference will be followed by a fourth international conference in Budapest, Hungary with an emphasis on Eastern and Central Europe. Two special issues of a peer-reviewed journal and a volume of comparative essays are planned for 2014.

Confirmed speakers include
Keynote speaker: Susan R. Grayzel, Professor of History and Interim Director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, University of Missisippi. Author of „Women’s Identities at War: Gender, Motherhood, and Politics in Britain and France during the First World War“ (University of North Carolina Press, 1999), which won the British Council Prize from the North American Conference on British Studies in 2000, and „Women and the First World War“ (Longman, 2002), a global history.

Dr Erica Kuhlmann, Director Women’s Studies Program, Idaho State University, author of „Of Little Comfort: War Widows, Fallen Soldiers and the Remaking of the Nation after the Great War New York University Press“ (forthcoming 2012); „Reconstructing Patriarchy after the Great War. Women, Gender and Postwar Reconciliation“ (Palgrave Macmillan 2008); „Petticoats and White Feathers: Gender Conformity, Race, the Progressive Peace Movement, and the Debate over War, 1895-1919“ (Greenwood Press 1997) and co-editor (with Kimberley Jensen) of „Women and Transnational Activism in Historical Perspective“ (Dordrecht, Republic of Letters 2010).

Dr Kimberley Jensen, History and Gender Studies Program, Western Oregon, Co-editor (with Erica Kuhlman) of „Women and Transnational Activism in Historical Perspective Dordrecht“ (Republic of Letters 2010) and author of „Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War“ (University of Illinois Press 2008).

Professor Matthew Stibbe, author of „Germany 1914-33: Politics, Society and Culture“ (Longman 2010); „British Civilian Internees in Germany: The Ruhleben Camp“ (Manchester University Press) and Co-editor (with Ingrid Sharp) „Aftermaths of War: Women’s Movements and Female Activists, 1918-1923“ (Brill 2011)

Dr Judit Acsády (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest); Professor Gabriella Hauch (University of Vienna, Austria); Ms Ingrid Sharp (University of Leeds, UK); Professor Olga Shyrnova (Ivanonvo State University, Russia); Dr David Hudson (Hamline University, US); Dr Nikolai Vukov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia).

Proposals for papers and/or panels that deal with the work of women’s organisations or female activists during the period under investigation are invited, with particular interest in the following areas:

  • cultural demobilisation and remobilisation;
  • transnational organisations and activities, transcending the nation state;
  • peace-building and reconstruction: a discourse of human rights;
  • on-going campaigns for suffrage and women’s organisations post-suffrage;
  • revolutionary and counter-revolutionary violence;
  • dislocation, disability, internment, social instability and poverty;
  • cultural reflections of post-war society in art, literature and film (NB: these may appear at a later date than the period under investigation)

Contributions are welcome from any field or discipline, including literary and cultural studies, sociology and social anthropology, women’s and gender studies, peace and war studies, as well as history itself. Please send abstracts (500 words) to Ms Ingrid Sharp and Dr David Hudson, by December 15.

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