17 January 2013
Claudia Mitchell. Feminist remembering: Productive remembering in changing times.
By Claudia Mitchell, a James McGill Professor at McGill University (Canada)
A report at the conference "The 21st Century Woman: New Opportunities and New Challenges"
The Gorbachev Foundation, December 6, 2012
COMMEMORATIVE DAYS: THE 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM
I start this paper with a personal memory piece as a way to think about lessons learned from the 20th century that might inform women and gender studies in the 21st century. What are the unresolved problems and what are the new opportunities for both men and women – and how might we use the idea of feminist remembering as a strategic tool in and of itself? Although there are many areas I could discuss, political leadership, access to maternal health care and so on – and of course if there is one key lesson from the 20th century and women’s history is the interrelatedness of issues and the importance of intersectionality -- the area of gender violence seems to me one where there is still much to be done. I wish I was just offering historical commentary today and not contemporary commentary. In taking on such a theme, I am also thinking of the importance of terms such as ‘social forgetting’, cultural amnesia, cultural nostalgia and the glossing over of the past, and perhaps the most ‘active’ one, ‘political erasure’. We are right now – from November 25th to December 10—in the middle of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The declaration of the ‘16 days of Activism’ dates back back to 1991. 21 years ago. Since 1991, over 4,100 organizations in approximately 172 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign since 1991.
What are we remembering in the commemoration of each of the 16 days?
Full-text version (PDF)