Feminist Duration Reading Group: Italian Feminism and the Practice of the Unconscious
2 April 2019

Tues 2 Apr, 7–9pm
SPACE Mare St*
Free & open to all

If the insights were extraordinarily far-reaching, the amount of suffering and madness that would emerge from this work were greatly underestimated. Paola Melchiori

The April meeting of the Feminist Duration Reading Group looks at the Italian feminist use of psychoanalysis. Refusing to separate individual from collective liberty, or cultural from political aspects of oppression, Italian feminists from the 1970s to the early 1980s used psychoanalysis to research patriarchy’s unconscious operations. Through 'thinking in presence' amongst other women, they not only dissected patriarchal knowledge, but gained a deeper sense of their subjective existences and possibilities. In addition to developing feminist approaches to speaking and listening, writing became a key tool, enabling women to find their voices and agencies outside as well as within the collective. Yet this powerful work was not without its challenges and 'shadow-sides'. The Practice of the Unconscious provoked deep-seated feelings of ambivalence and ambiguity, rivalry, fear, complicity and guilt amongst participants, emotions that prevailing ideologies of solidarity and sisterhood were ill-equipped to deal with.

Paola Melchiori is a key figure within Italian and global feminism, the founder and past president of The Women’s Free University in Milan, and Crinali, the research and intercultural association. She is author of three books, co-editor of seven collections of oral history, and over 70 articles and reports on knowledge creation, interdisciplinary and relational learning, and education. She has produced videos on international struggles of women in Argentina, Iceland and Albania.

Together we will read Paola Melchiori, ‘Psychoanalysis in Early Italian Feminisms: The Contributions of the Practice of the Unconscious,’ 2015

We will read out loud, together, so advance reading is not required. Please bring copies with you on the night.

The Feminist Duration Reading Group focuses on under-known and under-appreciated feminist texts, movements, and struggles from outside the Anglo-American feminist tradition. Started at Goldsmiths, University of London, in March 2015, since July 2015 it has been generously hosted by SPACE in Hackney.  The group also regularly meets in non-institutional spaces, including in community centres and in the homes of friends of the group where cooking and eating combine with reading and talking.

The Feminist Duration Reading Group welcomes feminists of all genders and generations to explore the legacy and resonance of art, thinking and collective practice from earlier periods of feminism, in dialogue with contemporary practices and movements. It is led by the Feminist Duration Working Group whose current members are Giulia Antonioli, Angelica Bollettinari, Lina Džuverović, Sabrina Fuller, Haley Ha, Lily Evans-Hill, Félicie Kertudo, Mariana Lemos, Roisin O’Sullivan, Ceren Özpinar, Sara Paiola, Helena Reckitt, Justin Seng, Ehryn Torrell, and Fiona Townend.  

If you would like to join the reading group mailing list, propose a focus for a subsequent session, or invite us to lead a meeting, please write to feministduration@gmail.com.

This is the last Feminist Duration Reading Group meeting to take place at SPACE, which has generously hosted the group since Summer 2015. We would like to thank SPACE for all their support and friendship over the past four years.

The next FDRG meeting will take place on Saturday 18 May at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, as part of Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 2.

In June 2019 the group begins a year-long residency at the South London Gallery in Camberwell, where we will focus on under-known aspects of feminisms in the UK.