IFRWH Newsletter February 2016

Welcome to our February installment of the blog.

Below you will find the February blog post by Angela Wanhalla, Jane McCabe, Katie Cooper, Sarah Christie and Jane Adams on the ‘Making Women Visible Conference’ held last week. 

You will also find links below to conference call for papers and a special mention of a medal.

Feel free to start a conversation on articles you have read, blog post etc., this is what we are here for! You can do it on this page or on our facebook page


Happy reading.



Blog post-Making Women Visible Conference

Angela Wanhalla, Jane McCabe, Katie Cooper, Sarah Christie and Jane Adams

It is hard to believe that just over a week ago we were preparing to welcome delegates for the Making Women Visible Conference, which ran from 15-17 February at the University of Otago. When we first discussed the idea of this event, we did not envisage just how much interest the conference would attract, both in terms of the number of abstracts offered in response to the call for papers, nor the huge number of people who attended it.

 Our vision was simple: to mark the publication of an important new book surveying the history of New Zealand women and to use this as an occasion to reflect on the scholarship produced in the field since the 1990s. We were also aware there had not been a conference dedicated solely to women’s history for at least fifteen years, so it seemed to us that the publication of Barbara Brookes’s A History of New Zealand Women by Bridget Williams Books offered an opportunity to assess the state of the field, and also look to the future.

 We chose Making Women Visible as our conference title and theme because it encompasses some of the key goals of women’s scholarship: to centre women in historical narratives, and to make visible the many hands that have laid the foundations of the field in this country. It was important to us to acknowledge and pay tribute to the women at the forefront of women’s history, notably Barbara Brookes and her collaborators Margaret Tennant and Charlotte Macdonald, Dorothy Page, Patricia Grimshaw, as well as Raewyn Dalziel amongst others. But we also felt it was important to look to the future, so we were pleased to see so many postgraduates present at the conference, bringing a multi-generational feel to the event. Moreover, we wanted this conference to be a space for opening up conversation across disciplines and methodologies, and so we were particularly delighted to be able to host a conference on women’s history that included scholars from a range of disciplines, and leaders from the museum, archives, gallery and library sectors.

 Over 150 delegates attended the Making Women Visible Conference and they were treated to some engaging and rich histories of the female experience. We opened with a compelling keynote address from Barbara Brookes on the history of care work and caring, which attracted a large and attentive crowd. From the moment the audience gathered we sensed something momentous was about to happen, and this set the tone for the book launch that followed, and the conference itself. Charlotte Macdonald convened and introduced a forum ‘Making Women Visible on the Pages of History’, which opened day two of the conference. She brought together three speakers who addressed the visibility of women in the public space. Sandra Coney spoke about Broadsheet and encouraged historians and archivists to collect material relating to second wave feminists; Bridget Williams addressed women in the publishing sector drawing from her experiences in England and New Zealand; Megan Whelan (Radio New Zealand) discussed the challenges of women in journalism. Two engaging and thought provoking keynotes from Melissa Matutina Williams and Frances Steel laid down challenges for future scholarship. With over 70 papers, the programme showcased some of the new terrain being opened up by scholars of women’s history. There were sessions on sexuality and emotion, and on material histories, including fashion, but also the visual, notably photography and film. Many spoke about individual women, some known nationally, and others prominent in their communities during their lifetime. Women’s writing was also canvassed, as was the work of artists and curators. Presenters addressed health, crime, education, and pay equity too. The place and role of feminism, and its relevance today was also on the agenda and inspired some lively debates. Encouraging conversation and debate was one of our goals and we hope that those dialogues opened up across generations and disciplines will continue into the future, hopefully on this blog. We also hope that it won’t take another 15 years before another women’s history conference is held in New Zealand!

 The Making Women Visible Conference was made possible by the generosity of our funders: the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, the University of Otago’s Continuing Education Fund, and the Women’s Studies Association of New Zealand. Their support enabled us to bring keynote and forum speakers to Dunedin. We thank our funders, and particularly acknowledge all participants for embracing the conference and making it an event to remember. We hope that the conference has encouraged conversation, enabled new collaborations, and will lead to similar events in the future.

 For further details about the conference go to the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture blog site: https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/crocc/2016/02/19/making-women-visible-conference/

 To see a selection of photographs from the book launch and conference go the Facebook page of the Department of History and Art History: https://www.facebook.com/OtagoHistoryAndArtHistory/

 To see social media comments on the conference go to its Storify page: https://storify.com/AWanhalla/making-women-visible 

A link that maybe of interest to some. Wouldn’t be awesome if Te Papa could buy it? http://www.dnw.co.uk/auctions/catalogue/lot.php?auction_id=353&lot_id=558

MAXIMISE YOUR POTENTIAL AND CONTRIBUTION TO THE PUBLIC SECTOR Wednesday 13 April  http://www.ipanz.org.nz/Event?Action=View&Event_id=442


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