Thinking Space 1998

Thinking Space

WISE Lesbian Studies group (WILD)
invite participants for study project 1998/99:

"THINKING SPACE in European Lesbian Studies,"
a three-phase project including a study week 14-23 August 1998 at Zuelpich Women's Studies Centre near Cologne, Germany

WILD is the Lesbian Studies group of the European Women's Studies network WISE (Women's International Studies Europe, NL - Utrecht). See

From Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, (Western) Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, lesbians in our organising group came together at the first WILD Study Week in 1996, with others joining later through WILD-LIST. Representing disciplines as diverse as Anglo-American Studies, Architecture, Cookery, Cultural Studies, Feminist Studies, Jewish Studies, History, Lesbian and Gay Studies, Linguistics, Literature, Media Studies, Migration Studies, Philosophy, Queer Studies, Social Policy Studies, and Sociology, we range from unemployed former students to fully employed academics, with life phases from menarche to menopause. We come in various shades of white and with different dis/abilities. Our project aims include preserving individual differences while cross-pollinating national knowledges and assuring continuity of lesbian studies in Europe. We therefore hope to interest women in the natural sciences and welcome participants from Southern and Eastern Europe. Contributions from all disciplines and levels of academic experience as well as from artists will enrich us all.

Phase 1 (starting in May 1998) is an e-mail study forum as preparation for the week, based on a cross-cultural and cross- disciplinary reader designed by participants.

Phase 2 (14-23.8.1998) is a study week for 18 at a women's studies centre near Cologne, Germany. Please inquire regarding costs. The houses are wheelchair accessible including one fully equipped apartment for 1-2 women. Week structure: mornings free for individual study, two days off for excursions to wild places in Bonn/ Cologne.

Phase 3 (1998/99) envisions a publication on SPACE as a concept in European Lesbian Studies that carries the dynamics of the e-mail discussion and the study week, condensing them into book form.

The project will explore how material and narrative spaces as well as spatial tropes shape the life stories, politics and theoretical endeavours of *lesbians* in Europe. For example, central to Western European women's movement(s)' narratives has been the creation or conquest of an *untouched* lesbian space beyond patriarchal territory. However, such ostensibly safe spaces delineating homogenous identities have been re-viewed as very much a part of the cultures and historical moments in which they took shape.

Since recent critical languages crucially depend on spatial metaphors, the theoretical and methodological challenge this project poses is to examine how space as a concept both expands and limits our thinking in European Lesbian Studies. Conversely, the project will ask how this approach may transform European cultures' re-conceptualistions of space. Emerging from a decidedly multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural context, the project will highlight the ways in which space - far from a neutral, abstract concept - is always specific to the culture, language, and discipline in which it is formulated.

Designed to break down hierarchies between "teachers" and "students," we ask each participant to share something about her current work, to reflect both her cultural and disciplinary background and provide a starting point for analysing the use of the concept "space" in her field. So, for example, if her work analyses "virgin space" in discourses about women saints, the contribution should consider the meaning of "space" in this context. How does her own academic language, positioned in a particular culture or between cultures, work with space, place, or location as analytical and political tools ? We would like to learn about real links between specific work in each of our "disciplines," such as textual analysis, sociological field research, planning or historiography and currently available theories in lesbian/feminist/queer studies.

"Space" as a concept provides a tremendously promising point of intersection both between theory and practice and among the various disciplines. We envision continuing the discourses on space(s) that have a long history in feminist reconceptualizations of various disciplines. The study and research project as a whole would thus both identify spaces/places/locations for individuals/ groups/texts and their/our knowledges and reflect upon the *idea* of situatedness and space in the political thinking of lesbian studies.

contact WISE Lesbian Studies (Claudia Koltzenburg),
c/o Koordinationsstelle Frauenstudien/Frauenforschung,
Binderstr. 34, D - 20146 Hamburg, Germany
FAX +39 - 55 - 24 80 056 (Liana Borghi, Florence, Italy)
or, if you wish to talk to one of the organising group beforehand:
Jeanne Cortiel, Dortmund, Germany,
Tel. (office) +49 -231 - 755 - 2903,
(home) +49 - 231 - 83 32 32

See also: