On Monday I went to York to the Fifty Years of Revolution conference organised by Clare Bielby and Claire Chambers.
There is something very straightforwardly utopian about spending two glorious days of sun in a treehouse full of feminists.
It sounds like something which might happen in a novel by one of the great feminist utopian writers of the 1970s.
It feels, as one of these wonderful feminists said of Marge Piercy’s novel ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’, like “taking a breath of fresh air when you are suffocating”.
No such utopian venture is without mitigation.
The neoliberal, imperialist, patriarchal, homophobic trappings of institutional academia provided an unwelcome but inescapable framework.
We spoke of pain and trauma and things we were rightly ashamed of and those systems which would like us to remain incapacitated by unearned shame.
But under and through and around those pressures we found a way to persist.
It was hard and it was funny and it was utopianism in action.
We welcome all thoughts about feminism and anti-racism and revolutionary action and the ways in which they intersect with utopianism.
The deadline for submissions to our call for papers is 29th June but if you’d like more time please drop us a line expressing your interest and we can work out an alternate timeframe.
With warm thanks to the University of York’s Centre of Women’s Studies and to Clare and Claire for dreaming up this event. And for all of the people who made it so fabulous: Rosemary Hill, Kim Allen, Rose Simpson, Miriam Tola, Ruth Kelly, Boriana Alexandrova-Isgate, Rafaela N Pannain, Laura Loyola-Hernandez, Mererid Puw Davies, Tanya Williams, Evelyn Preuss, Edward John Still, Hannah Dwyer Smith, Roxanne Douglas, Stevi Jackson, Katy Sian, Laura Schwartz and Ann Kaloski-Naylor.
I leave you with a collection of images drawn from and inspired by some of the glorious talks I was lucky enough to witness.