British Association for American Studies


The Dynamics of Power: Inclusion and Exclusion in Women’s Networks during the Long Nineteenth Century (University of Minho)

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The Dynamics of Power: Inclusion and Exclusion in Women’s Networks during the Long Nineteenth Century (University of Minho)

November 3, 2016 - November 5, 2016

Second International Conference of the Intercontinental Crosscurrents Network

Institute of Arts and Humanities, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, Nov. 3 – 5, 2016

Convener: Department of English and North-American Studies (DEINA) and the Centre for Humanistic Studies (CEHUM)

Networks are structures of relation, alignment, assembly, and linkage, however loose and asymmetrical their construction. They seem, first of all, combinative, their “work” deriving from or yielding to a common purpose or unifying theme. Along these lines, networks constitute structures of support or specific forms of exchange and solidarity, in essence bringing relations into being that can begin to exist across the norms and epistemologies of the status quo.

This focus on the productive aspects of networks, which often goes hand in hand with a celebratory discourse of accomplishments or injustices addressed, obscures another important question, however, namely, the extent to which networks operate on, or are, or can be, in themselves, maps of exclusion or expulsion. Clearly, networks, in particular networks devoted to a political agenda, often constitute themselves in response to exclusion (being barred from the right to vote, for example), setting as their goal the overcoming of boundaries by undoing lines of social, political, and economic division, such as suggested by stories of successful legal inclusion and gained rights. Is the thought of exclusion—at the limit, but importantly also within the idea of the network—not more fraught, though, once we consider who is allowed to appear, to speak, to stake a claim, and under what conditions; in short, who is allowed to exist within or vis-à-vis the network, and who is not, or only marginally so?

A variety of women’s networks, in particular, have long been held up as models for their sustaining, nurturing value and for their longevity over decades marked by political and social strife. Yet these relationships and organizations also often evidence lines of internal dissonance. During the long nineteenth century, an era marked by global socio-cultural shifts and political revolution, women forged inclusive and restrictive networks that enabled their objectives even as they refused to acknowledge the validity of others with conflicting goals.

With a focus on transnational women’s networks and networking in the long nineteenth century, this conference seeks papers examining how various organizations negotiate, or fail to negotiate, the uneven territories of their emergence. Where, and under what circumstances, are they not allowed to emerge at all? How do networks become aware of their own exclusivity? How do networks narrate themselves in view of lines of division and dissonance? What happens when emerging networks fall apart due to insuperable divisions? How do minorities negotiate their position within their own minority networks?

Contact email: jpaisana@ilch.uminho.pt



November 3, 2016
November 5, 2016
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