Northwestern University

Thu 5:00 PM

Finn Enke: "Stuck in the Paradigm with You: Transfeminist Histories, Pedagogies, and Starting Where We Are"

When: Thursday, October 10, 2019
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM  

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Eliot Colin   847.491.5871

Group: Gender & Sexuality Studies Program

Category: Lectures & Meetings


It is a truism that change is necessary, inevitable, and uncomfortable. As most historians acknowledge, change over time often entails conflicts over who and what should change in what ways. Meanwhile, feminists have long recognized that coalitional practice toward a more sustainable present and future requires the ongoing struggle among us to recognize our differences: where we came from, the conditions of our arrival, and who we are now. Yet how do we listen to each other in the present when our respective notions of the past seem to erase something on which the other depends? Are we even sitting at the same table, when we relate so differently to the spatial and social geometries that shape and lend meaning to our stories?

Historical analysis presents not only the voices of past visionaries, but profound challenges to contemporary communities yearning for justice in a time of intolerable violences and uncertain futures. Following Gloria Anzaldua’s invitation to inhabit the spaces of contradiction, I want to explore a transfeminist history and pedagogy that starts where we are today. What opens up if we take seriously the present day desires that are registered in our varied uses of “the past,” and even the likelihood that our present context creates our historical method? Calling for a more mixed up, expansive and dynamic past is to call on the present as a place of practice in which ever more, always multivalent perspectives arise to reflect the paths that get us from there to here and beyond. 

Finn Enke is a professor of History and Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Enke specializes in history of sexuality and gender, primarily 20th century United States focusing on feminist, queer, and transgender social movements and theory.

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