I have a long interest in eco/feminism, politics, activism, naturecultures, feminist theory, methods, and time manifests in multiple ways in this work.
I have been committed to recording and creating eco/feminist histories and archives, work which happens in the context of a feminism curiously obsessed with time, past, present and future. Feminist histories abound with accounts of the ‘end’ or ‘death’ of feminism; waves; movements; generations and generational conflicts’ legacy; claims for new waves of feminism, ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ waves, ‘new’ feminist materialisms. I am interested in what is disavowed in many of these moves, and how disavowal sometimes happens through placing people and events in the past, in history, by declaring them out of step, out of time. I am currently completing a monograph drawing on research with women environmental activists (The Changing Nature of Feminism: Unnatural Histories of Eco/feminism from Clayoquot Sound).
Stories of ‘burn-out’ from activism have led me to reflect on ways of refiguring politics as radical everyday activism which might sustain activists as well as the planet, and refigure care of the self as a profoundly collective and community-based practice. I am involved in participatory research with a young lesbian and bisexual women’s organic allotment project in Manchester, and I have emerging research interests in radical approaches to food and nutrition, alternative health practices, as well as other embodied practices such as yoga, Alexander Technique, and mindfulness; practices which stress an embodied mindfulness as an approach to being in the world. I am also interested in their take up as a resistance to Western notions of ageing as a degenerative process.
I am also fascinated by questions of time and research. As well having in mind the time involved in doing research with communities, and questions for researchers who are also involved in the communities being researched, of when is community being practiced and when is research being practiced, I am more generally interested in the temporalities of many methods (and disciplines) used in research with communities. Oral history, interviews, ethnography, memory work, genealogy, the generation and creation of archives, often carry implicit notions of history and time and how history is being recorded and researched, but also of how the research is understand to happen in and through time.
Niamh's Pecha Kucha
I have been a member of the Archaeology Subject Area from 2005, specialising in later prehistory: specifically, the Iron Age of Britain and Ireland. Key themes in my research include aspects of identity (exploring the intersection of age, gender, skill and life-courses in prehistoric communities), and relations between people and place, animal communities and objects. I also study the archaeology and anthropology of death and burial: currently focusing on the chariot burials of East Yorkshire. In addition, I have been involved in the recording and analysis of historic farm graffiti in the Yorkshire Wolds, and this has led to an interest in interdisciplinary research involving buildings recording, archival and photographic analysis, combined with oral history. This latter research has provided the inspiration for my involvement in this conference, and I look forward to sharing ideas with fellow researchers on how we might understand time as key to shaping distinct communities, and how we might explore contrasting rhythms of temporality through material culture.
In association with my colleague, Siân Jones, I will also introduce a new collaborative project on Whitworth Park, which aims to explore how urban communities are constituted in space and time, through their material practices. We are also interested in how the intersection of past and present creates connections between communities over time, and how archaeology can act as a site of memory and identity work.
Professor of Archival Studies and Director of the Information Management and Preservation MSc programme. I have written extensively on archival and historical topics. My most recent publications include an essay on ‘Brussels Sprouts and Empire’ for a book on the philosophy of gardening and another on the place of trust in archival discourse. The principal users of archives, both locally and nationally, are a genealogist, whose motivation are little explored but seems to encompass a search for identity and temporal belonging within a connected community. What do such intensions mean in our plural urban society? Is it simply a curious nostalgia or is there a genuine desire for identity that is located in more than present time? The use of archives has long been recognised as raising significant questions about the sense of time. Contemporary archival literature posits a view that archives are always in a ‘state of becoming’, because their interpretation is always influenced by the present, by location and the user’s perspectives and interests. If this is the case then it raises fundamental questions about what is meant by concepts of authenticity, accountability, veracity and trust that are not trivial, particularly when set in the context of events such as the war in Iraq or the decision to close local libraries. In democratic societies it can be argued that the archive acting fiduciarily and protected by the rule of law is an essential bulwark for our liberties as it holds the evidence to call those in authority to account.
I am an independent researcher whose academic training has primarily been in the area of Literary Studies and Critical Theory. In 2007 I began volunteering at a people’s history museum in Cardiff called the Butetown History & Arts Centre, where I learnt about life stories, oral history and the possibility of using museums as a vehicle for social change. Since then I have pursued an interest in public history and have recently curated an exhibition about feminism in Bristol called Sistershow Revisited. At present I am very interested in creating on and offline spaces where people and historical information can collide. My approach to this workshop will draw on these concerns, specifically exploring the issue of time within researching, documenting and disseminating vulnerable forms of material culture. As a case study I will draw on the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, a recently launched web archive of music from the UK feminist movements of the 1970s and 1980s. I shall be exploring how the creative actions produced by women in these communities, when digitised, has the capacity to transform the temporality of contemporary cultural memory.
Deborah's Lightning Talk