Big Berks 2011: hip, happening, and now. Dig?


You’ve been waiting for it all year long–and it’s here!  The next Berkshire Conference on the History of Women will be at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst June 9-12, 2011.  The call for papers and all of the details can be found here, and the deadline for proposals is March 1, 2010.  (That’s less than five months from now, girls and boys, so put your thinking caps on!  Tip of the thinking cap to Tenured Radical, who alerted me to this announcement.)

The conference theme for 2011 is “Generations:  Exploring Race, Sexuality, and Labor Across Time and Space.”  From the CFP: 

2011 marks the 15th Berkshire Conference on Women’s History and the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland and is now honored by more than sixty countries around the globe. The choice of “Generations” reflects this transnational intellectual, political, and organizational heritage as well as a desire to explore related questions such as: 

  • How have women’s generative experiences – from production and reproduction to creativity and alliance building – varied across time and space? How have these been appropriated and represented by contemporaries and scholars alike?
  • What are the politics of “generation”? Who is encouraged? Who is condemned or discouraged? How has this changed over time?
  • Is a global perspective compatible with generational (in the genealogical sense) approaches to the past that tend to reinscribe national/regional/racial boundaries?
  • What challenges do historians of women, gender, and sexuality face as these fields and their practitioners mature?

To engender further, open-ended engagement with these and other issues, the 2011 conference will include workshops dedicated to discussing precirculated papers on questions and problems (epistemological, methodological, substantive) provoked by the notion of “Generations.”

The conference organizers have changed the organizational structure for the conference substantially, so please read the further instructions carefully:  “To encourage transnational discussions, panels will be principally organized along thematic rather than national lines and therefore proposals will be vetted by a transnational group of scholars with expertise in a particular thematic, rather than geographic, field.”  So, instead of dividing the work up according to nationality and geography, with a U.S. and Canadian chair, a European chair, and a Global/transnational chair, proposals should be sent to one of the following thematic subcommittees:

  • Beauty and the Body, Stephanie Camp
  • Migrations: Race, Gender and Activism, Annelise Orleck
  • Economies, Labors, and Consumption, Tracey Deutsch
  • War, Violence, and Terror, Madhavi Kale
  • Youth and Aging, Jennifer Spear
  • Race in Global Perspective, Marilyn Lake
  • Health and Medicine, Julie Livingston
  • Sexuality, Kathy Brown (she’s the Berks president for 2009-2011, and the principal organizer of this conference)
  • Religion: Belief, Practice, Communities, Madhavi Kale
  • Politics and the State, Margot Canaday
  • Now, that’s an all-star lineup, friends.  This new scheme should change the way you assemble your panel and explain your work in your proposals–keep in mind that you’ll need to emphasize themes and not national or regional histories, and that your application will be read by a number of scholars unfamiliar with the region or national history you work within.  (P.S.  I’m talking to you, modern U.S. historians, for the most part!)  Start thinking and e-mailing your colleagues now–the website for applications will be open as of November 1, and I’ll post a reminder and a link as soon as it goes live next month.

    0 thoughts on “Big Berks 2011: hip, happening, and now. Dig?

    1. This is exciting! I haven’t made it to a Berks yet. The first one I knew of happened the June before I started grad school – 2005, I guess? I was still working and couldn’t take the time off/make the trip.

      Then I wasn’t yet at a place for proposing anything for the 2008, and didn’t make it to that either (off doing research elsewhere to start the dissertation, anyway).

      Now I’m set to graduate in May 2011, so the timing on this one is good. My only remaining quandry is that my work crosses at least 3 of those subcommittee topics, but I’m sure I can survive that. 🙂


    2. The Berks is difficult for grad students because it’s only triennial, and when you’re a grad student, who knows what you’ll be working on 2 years hence? (At least, I had no clue…) I missed the 1996 and 1999 Berks, and then the panel I was on was rejected for the 2002 Berks! But, I made it in 2005 and then was helping to run the show in 2008. Who knew!?

      But, if you can at all make an educated guess as to where you’ll be in your diss. research, and if your uni only provides support for conference travel if you’re on the program, then it’s more than worth a shot. (And now it’s all electronic, so it’s not like it even costs a stamp any more to apply!)


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