Subaltern Women’s Narratives: Subversion, Resilience, and Shifting Responses

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Date / time
Date(s) - 23 June
All day

Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield


This conference aims to look at the material histories and lives of subaltern women. In her 1988 essay ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, Gayatri Spivak extends the definition of the ‘subaltern’, going beyond “strict class analysis”, to incorporate a range of different subject positions, not predefined by dominant political discourses. We draw on her definition in our usage of the word ‘subaltern’, to focus on the experience of marginalised women in the present day. Most of the current academic discourse on subaltern women concentrates heavily on narratives of subjugation. However, the varied nature of lived experiences of these women has presented challenges in the knowledge and understanding of their experiences through an overarching critical narrative. The dominant approach of acknowledging only their subjugation eclipses the narratives of resistance and subversion by women. This conference seeks to focus on alternative narratives to such prevailing discourse.

However, we will not be limited only to a gendered (re)reading of alternative historical narratives. Recent years have seen an upsurge of conflict around the world, which have led to unprecedented numbers of migration and displacement. A result of this movement has been the disruption of homogeneous societies, an upheaval of lived experiences of people from different backgrounds, leading to an immense reshaping of women’s realities. This has rendered older meanings inadequate, giving rise to an impetus to rethink definitions for resistance and subversion, and engendering newer struggles. With this disruption and reshaping in mind, in this conference, we are also hoping to attract new scholarship in this field, and to understand the changing forms of subversion.

Further information and to register:

The conference will be held at the Humanities Research Institute (HRI), University of Sheffield, UK.