Thinking the Past

Popular third-wave and queer feminist discourses have little respect for the past. The history of the second-wave has been turned into a flat caricature, and decades of women’s thought and activism dismissed as interested only in the advancement of middle-class privileged women. While critiques of liberal, reformist feminism are absolutely warranted, the effect of this caricature has been to erase the depth of the second-wave analysis of patriarchal power, and it is unsurprising that, in recent years, this form of feminism has been widely embraced. Given that the university has abandoned its role as the custodian of past feminist thinking, the first function of The Centre for Feminist Thought is to give people of all ages and backgrounds a chance to engage with the key-concepts of the second-wave, to explore them in conversation with others, and to reflect on what we still find vital, illuminating, and indispensable.

Thinking the Future

The second aim of the Centre is to begin weaving together, collectively, the strands of past thinking into an analysis of the present, and a feminism for the future. The second-wave was a massive and diverse tradition, and had its fair share of internal conflicts. My hope is to take the central insights from radical, socialist, Black, psychoanalytic, philosophical and eco-feminism, and pull them together – to develop a feminist analysis which illuminates the inter-relations of male dominance, narcissistic entitlement, rape culture, capitalist exploitation, environmental appropriation, and racialisation, and gives us the tools to think the future otherwise. This is work I would like us to do together. Students from the Centre have formed the core of the team of The Radical Notion, and we hope to extend our collective work through conferences and summer schools in the future.