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Date: 8 - 9 January 2009 Time: Thursday 12.00 - 5.00; Friday 9.00 - 4.30
Hope: A Workshop on Feminist Theory
Venue: Meeting Room 1-2, IAS, Lancaster University. Times: 12.00 - 5 pm Thursday 8th, 9 am 4.30 pm Friday 9th. Registration will be held in IAS foyer from 12 - 1.15 on Thursday.
Registration for this event is now closed. If you require further information, please contact Debra Ferreday, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope has been central to marginal politics which speak of desires for equality or simply for a better life (Zournazi 2002). Feminism, for example, might be characterised as a politics of hope, a movement underpinned by a utopian drive for full equality. This version of hope has been appropriated into liberal discourse, for example in Barack Obama's phrase 'the audacity of hope' - a mobilisation of an affirmative politics which nevertheless implicitly reproduces the notion that we are living in hopeless times. Indeed, in recent years, feminism has seen the production of a prevailing mood of hopelessness around a generational model of progress, which is widely imagined to have 'failed'. However, as a number of feminist theorists have pointed out, the temporality of feminism cannot be conceived as straightforwardly linear (see for example McRobbie 2004, Hemmings 2005). As Lisa Adkins (2004) argues, it is only possible to imagine feminism as 'having passed' if one understands feminism to be a particular way of knowing that 'depends on teleological and progressive notions of history'.
This workshop will explore the possibilities of hope as a means of thinking through what it might mean to theorise the affirmative (for example Braidotti 2002, 2006). Does hope necessarily imply a fantasy of perfectibility, a progression to a utopian future, or might it also be conceived of as an attachment, a tendency, an inclination, a lure? Does life tend towards hope, happiness, optimism? And, if so, what are the consequences when hope fails? Who decides which hopes are false? What is the cost of giving up hope? Is hope necessarily affirmative or can it, like optimism, be cruel, since it is 'the condition of maintaining an attachment to a problematic object in advance of its loss' (Berlant 2006). Or as Claire Colebrook (2003) puts it, 'why is it that human life, in its everydayness, so often appears to choose its unhappiness?'
Taking these questions as our starting point, the workshop will explore how hope can do justice to the inherent interconnectedness of life and theory. Does hope enable feminist theory to understand life other than as a 'mystified false consciousness requiring the illumination of theory' (Colebrook 2003)? It will examine the kinds of relations to the future that hope creates and consider how a focus on hope might allow feminist theory to intervene in the cultural production of hopelessness.
Adkins, Lisa (2004) 'Passing on feminism' in European Journal of Women's Studies Vol. 11, No. 4, pp 427-444
Berlant, Lauren (2006) 'Cruel optimism' in differences Vol. 17, No. 3, pp 20-36
Braidotti, Rosi (2002) Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming Cambridge: Polity Press
Braidotti, Rosi (2006) Transpositions: On Nomadic Ethics Cambridge: Polity Press
Colebrook, Claire (2003) 'Happiness, theoria and everyday life' in Symploke Vol. 11, No. 1-2, pp 132-151
Hemmings, Claire (2005) 'Telling feminist stories' in Feminist Theory Vol. 6, No. 2, pp 115-139
McRobbie, Angela (2004) 'Post feminism and Popular Culture' in Feminist Media Studies Vol. 4, No. 3, pp 255-264
Zournazi, Mary (2002) (ed) Hope: New Philosophies for Change Sydney: Pluto
Keynote Speakers: Professor Claire Colebrook (English Literature, Edinburgh University and Professor Les Back, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College
Linda Aloyius, Department of Visual Arts, Goldsmiths College
Felicity Colman, Department of Film and Media, Manchester Metropolitan University
Celia Jameson, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College
Anne-Marie Fortier, Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, Lancaster University
Joan Haran, Cesagen, Cardiff University
Shona Hunter, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Leeds University
Melanie Latham, MISST (the Manchester Institute for Social and Spatial Transformations), Manchester Metropolitan University
Maureen McNeil, Centre for Gender and Women's Studies and Cesagen, Lancaster
Corinne May-Chahal, Department of Applied Social Science, Lancaster University
Niamh Moore, Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, Manchester University
Cathie Pearce, ESRI, Manchester Metropolitan University
Debi Withers, independent scholar
Who can attend: Anyone
Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, Feminist Media Studies Research Group, Institute for Advanced Studies, Media, Film & Cultural Studies (formerly ICR)
Keywords: Cultural theory, Feminist theory
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