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CfP | One-day workshop on Feminist Publics

Christopher Marcatili | Published on 3/14/2023

Papers are requested for a one-day workshop on Feminist Publics to be held at the University of Melbourne and online on Thursday 4 May 2023.


In the wake of #MeToo and the global COVID-19 pandemic, the relationships between feminisms and publics need urgent re-examination. Feminist thinkers have long been concerned with the gendered nature of the public sphere. Questioning the dichotomy of public and private, and the formations of intimacy and citizenship that hinge upon it, has been foundational to feminist thinking. Concurrently, feminist scholars and activists have traced the affordances and constraints of public spheres and spaces as sites for reshaping gender relations, and have experimented with the possibilities of feminist (counter)publics across a diverse range of physical and digital contexts. As people around the world are re-engaging with public space following the pandemic, this workshop explores whether new possibilities for feminist reshapings of public space have emerged. Through a focus on both safety and pleasure, we explore how women and non-binary persons are excluded from the public via sexual harassment on the street, in public venues and online, as well as the ways they resist that exclusion by asserting their rights to the city and establishing new forms of ‘networked feminism’ online. We explore how the formation of national and dominant publics often rests on gendered tropes about intimacy, reproduction, and belonging. And we ask whether the increased public visibility of feminism during the #MeToo movement and allied social movements has had a lasting impact on the ways in which feminist scholars and activists engage ‘the public’ and vice versa. Is the need for activist feminist scholarship more urgent than ever? Is the public more open or resistant to that scholarship? Where is the space for friendship and frivolity in feminisms, public and private? We take an intersectional approach to these questions and seek to centre the Global South, exploring the ways in which exclusions from and claims upon ‘the public’ are shaped by race, class, sexuality and colonialism.


Keynote speakers for this workshop are Professor Shilpa Phadke and Nithila Kanagasabai from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. The workshop will culminate in a celebration of their new bookYaari: A South Asian Anthology on Friendship.


The aim is to start a conversation with scholars with a focus on similar issues. Presentations of work in progress, open-ended and creative responses as well as presentations of published work are all welcome.


To propose a paper, send a title and 150 word abstract to Amanda Gilbertson ( by Monday 27 March.


If you would like to attend this workshop in person, but travel costs are likely to be a barrier, indicate this in your email so travel support may be considered.