IASH Intellectual and Literary History Public Seminar Series, "The Future of History"

Feminist History: Past, Present and Future

Does feminist history have a future?

Contemporary shifts in scholarship, digital technology and institutional agendas have created new sets of challenges for feminist history. While these do not undermine the paradigms of feminist scholarship as an intellectual endeavour, there has been an inevitable shift in how feminist history is now written, conceptualised and undertaken. A hallmark of dynamic and innovative scholarship is a capacity to evolve and respond to intellectual challenges and developments. There is much to be positive about in the future, as I argue feminist history at its best has not remained a passive or static body of knowledge, but continues to be reformulated and reconceptualised, but with this dynamism comes uncertainties which institutional change and new technologies can bring. While I do not believe these are systemic enough to pose a challenge to the enterprise, these do create cause for wider discussion, especially about the place of the humanities more generally in the corporate university of the twenty-first century.
In this talk I outline some of the major achievements by feminist historians from the 1970s onwards in re-examining the writing of history. I consider the contemporary challenges to feminist history within the tertiary sector and the future of feminist scholarship in general within the relentless pressures that exist within universities today.  Finally, I consider where and how can feminist historians continue to make an intervention in contemporary politics today? In what way can feminist history continue to historicise the present given that it is not as aligned with the women’s movement as it perhaps once was several decades ago? I conclude on the vital contribution feminist history can make in our troubled contemporary times and beyond.  

Joy Damousi is Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. She has published widely on aspects of political history, women’s history and feminist history, memory and war, history of emotions and psychoanalysis, sound and war, and the history of post-war migration and refugees. She is the author of numerous books which include The Labour of Loss: Mourning, Memory and Wartime Bereavement in AustraliaGender and War: Australians At War in the Twentieth Century (with Marilyn Lake), and Diversity in Leadership: Australian Women, Past and Present (with Mary Tomsic and Kim Rubenstein). Her latest publication is Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War: Australia's Greek Immigrants after World War II and the Greek Civil War. Her articles have appeared in American Historical ReviewSocial HistoryJournal of the History of Sexuality and Gender and History. She is currently working on a history of child refugees, humanitarianism and internationalism from 1920 to the present for which she was awarded an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship. This research examines the experiences and impact of child refugees displaced by the wars of the twentieth century.

4.00pm Thursday 25 May 2017
Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower
University of Queensland, St Lucia
For further information, please contact iash@uq.edu.au or 07 334 69492

All welcome.


Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower, University of Queensland, St Lucia