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Feminist History Group (discontinued)

This group was last co-convened by Anna Hajkova (Associate Prof of Modern European History) and Laura Schwartz (Reader of Modern British History)

This group was based in the History Department, but was open to all researchers whose work engages with questions of gender and feminism. We hosted talks and also provided the opportunity for close reading and in-depth discussion of theoretical (and other) texts. We hoped to benefit from cross-disciplinary perspectives, and to develop an informal space in which we can learn from each other in thinking-through what are often challenging conceptual issues. Speakers to date have included Jack Halberstam, Judith Walkowitz, Caroline Bressey, and Alison Light (see below for a more detailed list of speakers over the years).


Fall term 2022


Week 5, Wednesday 2 November, 4:30 PM-6 PM, OC0.04

Maria Helena Machado (USP), "A slave mother and her children: slavery and death in late XIXth Century Brazil."

Discussant: Camillia Cowling

co-hosted with the Global History and Culture Centre


Week 9, Wednesday 30 November, 4:30 PM-6 PM, OC0.04


Rosa Campbell (University of Cambridge), '"To feel their warmth, sisterhood and closeness: Australian feminist entanglements with Vietnamese and Chinese communism, 1969-1979.'

Across the decade 1969-1979, the Australian women's liberation was entangled with Vietnamese and Chinese Communism. Initially, I explore how Maoist political thought informed Australian feminist practice and consider the admiration Australian feminists had for East Asian communist women. I offer reflections from feminists drawn from oral history interviews to enrich this. Next, I examine a series of visits in both directions spanning 1975-1979, and explore how women's perceptions of one another fared when they met face-to-face. I centre moments of bafflement, awkward laughter and confused silences. Finally, I will discuss the implications of this research for feminist history, global history and what it might offer feminist political thought and action today.

Discussant: Aditya Sarkar

co-hosted with the Global History and Culture Centre;


Summer Term 2023

Maud Bracke (Glasgow), Emergence of Reproductive Rights in Postwar Europe – May 11, 3.30pm, FAB 3.31

'Women's control, non population control': Reproductive rights, the UN, and the emergence of a global women's health movement (1970-80s)

in cooperation with the European History Research Centre, and hybrid

Autumn term 2021

Stella Dadzie, A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and the Enduring Power of Resistance

co-hosted by the History Department Research Seminar and the Centre for the History of Medicine

4:30pm - 6pm, Wed, 03 Nov '21 Export as iCalendar

Chair Laura Schwartz; Respondent: Meleisa Ono George (University of Oxford)

Stella Dadzie will be discussing her latest book, A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery & Resistance in which she explores the myriad ways women encountered and resisted enslavement faced with centuries of focussed repression and gendered violence that was designed to break their spirit. She will show how women adapted cultural survivals and 'the peculiar burdens of their sex' in ways that not only undermined the very institution of slavery, but remain relevant to the challenges we face today.
biography: Stella Dadzie is a writer and feminist historian, best known for 'The Heart of the Race: Black Women's lives in Britain' which won the 1985 Martin Luther King Award for Literature, and was re-published by Verso in 2018 as a Feminist Classic. Her latest book 'A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery & Resistance' was published by Verso in October 2020 to critical acclaim. She is a founder member of OWAAD (Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent), a national umbrella group for Black women that emerged in the late 1970s as part of the British Civil Rights movement.

Spring term 2022

Sarah Schulman, 'Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993'

co-hosted by the History Department Research Seminar

4:30pm - 6pm, Wed 2 Feb 2022
Chair: Anna Hajkova, Respondent: Laura Schwartz

Sarah Schulman will be talking about her new book Let the Record Show: a Political History of Act Up (if you don't have time to read the book you can watch United in Anger a film on the subject also made by Schulman here). In just six years, ACT UP, New York, a broad and unlikely coalition of activists from all races, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds, changed the world. Armed with rancor, desperation, intelligence, and creativity, it took on the AIDS crisis with an indefatigable, ingenious, and multifaceted attack on the corporations, institutions, governments, and individuals who stood in the way of AIDS treatment for all. They stormed the FDA and NIH in Washington, DC, and started needle exchange programs in New York; they took over Grand Central Terminal and fought to change the legal definition of AIDS to include women; they transformed the American insurance industry, weaponized art and advertising to push their agenda, and battled—and beat—The New York Times, the Catholic Church, and the pharmaceutical industry. Their activism, in its complex and intersectional power, transformed the lives of people with AIDS and the bigoted society that had abandoned them.
Sarah Schulman is Distinguished Professor at the College of Staten Island, the City University of New York. She is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer, AIDS historian, journalist, active participant citizen and was active in the ACT UP movement about which she writes. Her many publications include Israel/Palestine And The Queer International (Duke University Press, 2012), The Gentrification of The Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (University of California Press, 2012), Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (The New Press, 2010), Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America (Duke, 1998) My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years (Routledge, 1994)

“Close-up portrait of Jewish refugee, Esther Weeg, wearing a sari while living in India.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archives, Photograph Number: 77107, copyright of USHMM.

Pragya Kaul, The Two “Others”: Perspectives on and from Holocaust Refugees in British India

2 March, 1-2pm, Teams

This talk focuses on the world of empires that shaped the administration and experiences of Jewish refugees through the twentieth century. It adopts the perspectives of two groups of people “Other-ed” in the racial hierarchy of empire. First, it highlights the ways in which Jewish refugees responded to and participated in their changing categorizations prior to and following the start of the Second World War. Thinking from the perspective of women and children, it brings forward the different stakes for different groups of refugees in the categorizations they could not change. Second, it reads government records against the grain to put forward the perspective of Indians encountering these new “Europeans.” In doing so, I show that scholars ought to account for an expanded conception of Britain which includes in its “domestic” sphere its imperial boundaries when analyzing refugee movements in the Empire. This allows us not only to ask new questions on the Holocaust but also, of the archives that allow us to study them and the perspectives they represent.

In cooperation with the Global History and Culture Centre and the proposed Centre for Global Jewish Studies.

Pragya Kaul is a PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan’s Department of History and a Todd M. Endelman and Zvi Y. Gitelman Fellow at Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. From 2020-2021, she was a Leo Baeck International Dissertation Fellow.



1) Wednesday, March 17 2021, 4.30-6 pm, in cooperation with Warwick Workshop for Interdisciplinary German Studies:

Dr. Regina Mühlhäuser (Hamburg Foundation for the Advancement of Research and Culture): Book presentation and discussion of Mühlhäuser’s book: Sex and the Nazi Soldier. Edingburgh UP 2020.

2) Sina Speit (Erfurt), Allies, role models, mothers, ‘others’ – West German Feminists and coming to term with the Nazi Past, 2 June 2021, 4pm GMT on Zoom via Sociology.

This talk has been recorded and if you like, email Sina Speit and ask for a youtube link. (email in the link at her name)


Prof. Laura Doan (University of Manchester), An Unnatural History of Sexuality: Lord Berners and His Circle

One result of the dominance of normality in the modern age is that we have lost touch with the distinctive calibrations and complexities of an earlier discursive system: the natural and its unsettling antithesis, the unnatural. This talk turns to Lord Berners (1883-1950), whose playful antics with animals caught the public’s attention. By pushing normalization to the sidelines (sex as homo/hetero), we can better discern how sexual dissidents such as Berners reconfigured the unnatural as part of nature’s plan, a site of wonder and beauty.

Date: Wednesday 16 October

Time: 4 PM-6:30 PM

Venue: OC0.01


Film screening:Rafiki (co-hosted by the Africa Book and Film Series)

Date: Wednesday 22 Jan

Time: 4 PM-7 PM

Venue: OC0.01



Jane Freeland (Queen Mary) 'Reforming Rape: East German Women's Activism Against Sexual Violence'

Date: Tuesday 28 May

Time: 17:00-19:00

Venue: H5.45




Esme Cleall (Sheffield) 'Tilly Aston (1873-1847): Disability, Activism and Gender in Colonial Australia'

Date: Tuesday 19 February

Time: 17:30-19:00

Venue: R0.12

More information hereLink opens in a new window




Susanne Luhmann (Alberta) 'Representing Familial Legacies of Nazi Perpetration: Postmemory and/or a ‘Move to Innocence’?'

Date: Wednesday 5 December

Time: 17:00-19:00

Venue: H2.44

More information hereLink opens in a new window




Donna Harsch (Carnegie Mellon) 'Infantilizing Mothers or Empowering Them? The Fight against Infant Mortality in East and West Germany, 1949-1989'

Date: Tuesday 8 May

Time: 16:00-18:00

Venue: R0.14




Judith Gerson (Rutgers) 'Why Feminist Methods Matter'
Date: Thursday 11 January
Time: 18:00-19:30
Venue: OC1.07




Julia Laite (Birkbeck) 'Saving White Slaves in Early Twentieth Century London and Buenos Aires'
Date: Thursday 19 October
Time: 18.00-19.30
Venue: OC1.01
Alison Light, 'Memories, Histories, Selves: On Writing a Memoir'
Date: Thursday 16 November
Time: 18:00-19:30
Venue: OC0.01


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