Professor Madhavi Kale Co-Chairs International Women’s History Conference With Multiple Bryn Mawr Connections

Posted May 12th, 2011 at 1:52 pm.

Cover of the conference program, featuring María Magdalena Campos-Pons' <em>Abridor de Caminos (The One Who Opens Paths)</em>, an image Kale encountered at an exhibition at haverford College.

Cover of the conference program, featuring María Magdalena Campos-Pons' Abridor de Caminos (The One Who Opens Paths), an image Kale encountered at an exhibition at Haverford College.

Bryn Mawr Professor of History Madhavi Kale is co-chair of the Program Committee for the 15th Triennial Berkshire Conference on the History of Women and Gender, to be held June 9-12 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with nearly 200 sessions and over 1,100 participants from around the world.

Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the theme of the 2011 conference is “Generations: Exploring Race, Sexuality, and Labor Across Time and Space.” It reflects, as Conference President Kathleen Brown notes, “our self-conscious embrace of several meanings of ‘generations’ [and] acknowledges our debts to a previous generation of scholars who defined the field of women’s history and gave it its intellectual vitality. Many of the panels embody the intellectual journeys of scholars whose current focus on gender and sexuality rests on this important foundation. Honoring the legacy of this older generation of historians, we have embraced the creative work of “generation” and restructured the conference to take advantage of new upsurges of intellectual energy in global history, transnational and transregional history, and the history of race and sexuality.”

The conference’s sponsoring organization, the Berskhire Conference of Women Historians, has a long history of association with Bryn Mawr College.

Mary Maples Dunn, who earned her Ph.D. in history at Bryn Mawr, served on the College’s faculty, and ultimately became the dean of the undergraduate college before leaving to become the president of Smith College, was the Conference’s treasurer 1965-7 and secretary/treasurer from 1967-69; co-president from 1972-3; and president from 1974-6.

Professor Emerita of Growth and Structure of Cities Barbara Miller Lane served as the organization’s treasurer from 1963-65 and its secretary from 1965-1967, and Bryn Mawr alumna Gabrielle Spiegel, now the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University, served as secretary/treasurer from 1978-9 and as president from 1982-3.

The organization’s third triennial conference on the history of women was hosted by Bryn Mawr in 1976, Kale reports. Members of the Bryn Mawr and Haverford History Departments have often contributed papers and chaired panels at the “Big Berks,” she notes, and Bryn Mawr alumnae and faculty tend to be well represented.

“This year, for example, three former History majors are giving papers: Anastasia C. Curwood ’96, assistant professor of African American and diaspora studies at Vanderbilt University; Rachel Jean-Baptiste ’94, associate professor of history at the University of Chicago; and Corrie Decker ’99, assistant professor of history at the University of California, Davis. Rachel  and Corrie, in fact, are featured as headliners in a plenary session entitled ‘Where is Africa in Gender History?,’ one of three stand-alone plenary sessions addressing methodological and epistemological questions crucial to historical practice irrespective of our specializations and fields.”

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