Capturing Feminist Transgression through Cultural Production: A Comparative Analysis of Italian and Québécois Feminisms in the 1970s

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 13:21
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Jacinthe MICHAUD, School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, York University, Canada
Culture and politics sustain each other despite the tension and contradictions emerging from political movements, feminism included. Means of cultural production (journals, films, radio programing, publishing houses, visual arts, and exhibitions) are the traces left behind in the history of movements and we are not in the “company of strangers” when the dual notion of “politics” and “arts” appear side by side. This presentation intends to revisit moments in the recent history of contemporary feminism when political art was at the core of discourses and practices. Culture is a terrain for feminist struggles which was particularly visible in the 1970s when a diversity of cultural expression abounded, voicing feminist revolutionary messages. The presentation looks at two types of feminisms which have never been compared before: Québécois (Canada) and Italian feminisms. Looking at the 1970s, two interrelated phases appear clearly:  the first phase was characterised by both the tension and the power of attraction between politics and the numerous counter-cultural manifestations created by feminism; the second phase was characterized by the increasing marginalization of cultural production within various movements, including feminism. To understand the later phase and how the marginalization of culture happened towards the end of the 1970s, I will look at the process of displacement of culture within feminism. I suggest that this displacement was perhaps consciously initiated by some feminists themselves who, out of a desire to get recognition and funding,   aimed to produce the kind productions required by mainstream cultural institutions. The presentation will explore how the marginalization of culture from politics was accompanied by another sort of dissociation, one that de-linked the individual from the collective that had contributed to shaping women’s identity as a political subject while feminism, as a political movement, fell into latency at the turn of 1980s.