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Feminist Emergency - International Conference

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, Malet Street

No booking required

Feminist Emergency
Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in collaboration with British Comparative Literature Association, Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS), the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, and Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MaMSIE)

Dates & Times:

  • Thursday 22 June, 6-7.30pm
  • Friday 23 June, 10am-7.30pm. Followed by a wine reception for all attendees and speakers.
  • Saturday 24 June, 10am - 6.30pm

Remaining Ticket types:

Live streaming of keynote lectures into separate room and full access to all panels and breakout sessions - £30

BOOK YOUR PLACE (Please select the £30 concession rate and in the required fields of university & programme of study please write 'live streaming')

This major international feminist conference emerges out of a shared sense that feminism today is confronted with a set of acute challenges to which it urgently needs to bring new resources and critical insight. Austerity policies, increasing social inequality, the general assault on collective policies of social welfare, the changes imposed on health care, the needs of an ageing population, the increasing worldwide visibility of violence (domestic violence, rape as a weapon of war, 'honour' killing, female genital mutilation), all of these intensifying trends are placing women under renewed pressure and are heightening the need for women to reflect, speak and find new means of expression. At the same time, the rise of populism in the context of Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US, with the growing racism that has accompanied both, are contributing to a climate where bigotry and misogyny are granted new permission to parade themselves in the media and on the streets. Opening and closing the conference with poetry and literary readings by renowned creative writers from across the globe, our aim is to demonstrate the central role of cultural expression in representing, illuminating and resisting this new climate in which women find themselves today.

The conference aims to address these issues, and their implications for feminist thought, activism and creativity, and in relation to public policy in the UK and globally. To that end, we are especially committed to fostering a unique atmosphere of dialogue and exchange which will cross the boundaries between scholars, practitioners and literary writers, between generations of feminists, across different ethnic and cultural groups, between the trans-movement and feminism, and between critical thinking and the demand for social change. The Conference will therefore gather together academics, literary scholars and poets, professionals, policy makers and feminist activists in the realm of health care, education, domestic labour and sexual violence. It will also be interdisciplinary, working across sociology and social history, economics, politics, psychoanalysis, sexuality and gender studies, literature, film and culture. Internationally renowned writers and thinkers such as NourbeSe Philip, Jackie Kay, Leila Ahmed and Drucilla Cornell will bring to the conference voices out of which we will aim to establish the forward looking nature of modern feminist expression and thought.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Patience Agbabi (Poet, performer, mentor and Fellow, Oxford Brookes University)
  • Leila Ahmed (Harvard University, via Skype)
  • Drucilla Cornell (Rutgers University)
  • M. NourbeSe Philip (Poet, Thninker, Activist)
  • Denise Riley (Poet and Novelist)
  • Karin van Marle (University of Pretoria)


  • Feminism, Racism, Anti-racism
  • Gender, Brexit and Trump - Elections and Populism
  • Gender, Brexit and Trump - Migration and Race
  • Generations of Women
  • Queer Milk
  • Radical Transfeminist Perspectives on Justice
  • Sexual Difference in the New Millennium
  • Sexual Violence and Coercion in the UK and Across the World
  • Sex Work
  • Trouble for Girls: Growing up in Rape Culture
  • Who Cares?: The Care Emergency and Feminist Responses
  • Women and Power? Feminism and Shifting Gender Patterns in Neoliberal Times

Breakout Sessions

  • Anti-Austerity Skills Share: Everyday Activism Around Gender, Disability and Mental Health
  • B Ruby Rich, Curator Critic and Film Activist
  • Collaborative Writing - a talk and Workshop
  • Documentary Activism
  • Feminism and Pornography
  • Feminist Emergency - The Art Field
  • Gender, Brexit, Trump
  • Generations of Women
  • No Space to Breathe
  • Subversive Storytelling: A Workshop
  • There Is No Word For It: The (Trans) Mangina Monologues. Verbatim Theatre as activism
  • The Gendered Dynamics of Power
  • Under the Skin of the City - Film Screening
  • Why the UK's Border is a Feminist Emergency

View the full Programme

Full details - Keynotes and Panels

Full Details - Breakout Sessions

We are committed to making this conference fully accessible. If you have specific access needs or face barriers to participation, including caring responsibilities, please get in touch with us at so that we can support your full participation