PANEL: Uses of Space: Women’s Global and Local Resistance

March 2, 2013 4:45 PM

This panel will be moderated by Dr. Rona Holub, chair of the women’s history department at Sarah Lawrence College. 

From Stella Wright to Stellar Homes: Black Women’s Activism and the Newark
Tenant Movement 1969-1974

Victoria McCall

This paper explores the meanings and significance of the landmark rent strike at the Stella Windsor Wright Homes in Newark, New Jersey, which took place between 1970 and 1973. Situating the strike within the context of space and resistance, she shows that housing and housing rights for Stella Wright tenants was about more than housing; it was about the creation of a fulfilling, free life. She answers questions such as: how were residents advocating for their own space? What were their demands? How
does the Newark Tenant Movement add to Newark’s Black Liberation historiography? And, importantly, what could be learned of poor women’s activism from the strike.

Victoria McCall is currently pursuing her M.A. in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College. She received her B.A. from Temple University and her M.S. from Chestnut Hill College with a concentration in Secondary English and Special Education. She is currently working as a Kindergarten Instructional Assistant and has experience teaching special
education and high school English.

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Resistance Through Movement: South African Women Negotiate Space

Catherine Newton

This paper examines South African women’s experiences of resistance under the apartheid regime. In South Africa, the struggle between the oppressive white minority government and the black majority often took the form of spatial negotiation. Apartheid in South Africa was most strongly characterized by a desire of the white minority government to control, legislate, and monitor black people’s location in space. Evident in legislation, policing and prosecution records is the desire to control and supervise black women’s movement. In response, their resistance appropriately takes the form of purposeful movement. Women refused to carry passes as they moved in and out of cities illegally. Domestic servants decorated their back rooms and broke rules to shelter relatives and friends, excerpting control over their immediate environment. In the most extreme instances, women escaped prison and chose to live in exile to continue revolutionary work. In all of these ways and many more, women moved purposefully in and around their daily spaces and even across and out of the country despite the government’s concerted efforts to confine them.

Catherine Newton received her B.A. in Philosophy from Kalamazoo College in 2009, and it currently working towards her M.A. in women’s history from Sarah Lawrence College. In the summer of 2010 she worked for RADDHO, the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights, where she worked directly with abused Senegalese women.

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“What Could You Do With a Dollar?”: Italian American Women’s Wage Earning in
Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1929-1941

Emma Staffaroni

This paper uses oral history and local sources to explore the experiences of
young Italian American women during the decade after the Great Depression. When the Depression of 1929 struck Northeastern Pennsylvania, coal mining towns like Carbondale – and its large population of Italian-American residents – underwent significant industrial reorganization and transformation and transformation. As a result,
first- and second-generation Italian-American women experienced shifts in their identities. Where most had been confined to traditional roles, leaving the wage-earning to men, the 1930s marked the first time that these women acted as sole or primary breadwinners in their families. The extensive oral history of Joan Festa Staffaroni, native of Carbondale, lays the foundation for this research. The presentation will show that wage-earning – for Joan, her sisters, and many others in this context – created conditions in which a woman could claim personal and political space in strategic ways.

Emma Staffaroni is working on her M.A. in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College. She earned her B.A. from Boston College in English, Education, and Women’s Studies. She is the 2012 recipient of the Gerda Lerner Prize in Women’s History.

David Simon’s The Wire: A Study of Women

by Amanda Seybold

David Simon’s The Wire, which aired for five seasons on HBO from 2002 to 2008, is possibly one of the most probative and insightful shows that has ever graced the small screen.  While some would describe it as a show about police in Baltimore who investigate and apprehend drug dealers, the show actually presents thoughtful and in depth examinations of many aspects of urban life, which would otherwise be ignored by middle-class America.  Despite being outside the regular scope of the show, The Wire, perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally, uses the juxtaposition of two female detectives, Detective Kima Greggs and Detective Beadie Russell, to illustrate a discourse on gender norms, racial implications, sexuality and motherhood.

At the end of her text No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women, Estelle Freedman takes a moment to reflect on the changes that have occurred in both the public and private sectors with regards to women’s issues.  She notes “[w]omen and men are demanding new social policies that allow them to choose both caring and breadwinning rather than choose between them.”[1] It is apparent from The Wire’s depiction of both Russell and Greggs, however, that the show is a bit behind the developments that Freedman lauds in her text.  Ultimately the show’s story arc stays with Greggs while Russell is relegated to a secondary position after just one season.   Greggs’ character seems to illustrate Simon’s argument that in order for a woman to succeed in the high energy and exciting world of crime fighting in Baltimore, she must essentially align herself more closely with traits we have come to regard as part of the male gender, rather than with the female. Continue reading

“Feministet Në Punë” (Feminists at Work): A Discussion of Interviews with Albanian Women in Kosovo

by Hana Kabashi

In the process of writing a Master’s thesis, what follows is a primary source analysis using the provided links. For the purpose of this step in my work, the original source was edited to focus on the interviews with various women and organizations within Kosovo taken by journalist Peter Lippman in 1998 and 1999.  I also include some of his journal entries that he wrote during his time in Kosovo.

http://balkansnet.org/quiriazi.html
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/balkans/message/325

In 1990, as Serbian nationalist rhetoric became stronger and stronger in the former Yugoslavia with Slobodan Milosevic at the helm, the autonomy granted to Kosovo in the years before was slowly stripped away.  The Serbian government’s first step was to disband the Albanian police force in Kosovo and install a force of over 2,500 Serbian police.[1] Albanians were no longer trusted to police themselves and soon a domino effect would occur.   Albanian men and women in various positions of power or authority in schools, hospitals and governmental positions resigned or were replaced by Serbian counterparts.

The Albanian men that were a part of the Assembly of Kosovo—the governing faction of Kosovo that was represented in the Yugoslavian government—continued to try to counteract the aggressive and destructive legislative moves of the pro-Serbian authority but were repeatedly out-ranked and out-maneuvered.[2] Eventually, all Albanian media sources would be suppressed.  Newspapers and broadcast systems were disbanded or taken over by Serbian workers.  As the Albanian population became increasingly subjugated, a seemingly unanimous decision amongst the population was to not trust or recognize the power of Serbia over them, at least in secret.  Many schools were closed, and those that remained open to Albanian children forced them to learn solely the Serbian language and the Cyrillic alphabet.  Soon  a “parallel”[3] society and government would emerge in Kosovo.  Elections for an illegal, secret government were held in 1992.  Schools and classes were held in homes and other private buildings, paid for by parents and donations from Albanians in the Diaspora community.[4] In the early 1990s, the Albanian community would construct an entire society in secret, while publically trying to stay out of the Serbian government’s way. Continue reading

WELCOME TO THE 2012 WOMEN’S HISTORY CONFERENCE ISSUE!

Well Hello There!

March is Women’s History Month which means it’s time for the 14th Annual Women’s History Conference at Sarah Lawrence College {home to first-ever women’s history program and the subsequent founders of Women’s History Month}!

To celebrate this year’s conference, R/V decided to profile some of this year’s most buzz-worthy presenters and performers! And, in spirit of the conference theme, “Women, the Arts and Activism” we’ve reached out to some of our favorite female artists {one of whom belongs to our Women’s History program} who have graciously let us feature their amazing work!

Art isn’t dead. {it’s just not the boy’s club it used to be}.

HAPPY WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH! See you at the conference!

xx

Caroline

p.s. here’s the schedule AND you can register here! x

p.s.s. WE LOVE YOU!