Dear WiG members, conference panel organizers, and participants,
In collaboration with this year’s conference organizers, the Leadership Team of the Coalition of Women in German is writing to announce that we have decided to hold the 2021 conference virtually again this year. Based on the results of the conference format survey sent out by the conference organizers this spring as well as the uncertainty regarding the ongoing effects of the pandemic, reduced travel budgets, and other related concerns, we believe this to be the most responsible option. Making this difficult decision now will allow us to plan the best conference possible in this format.
The conference organizers will be reaching out to the individual panel organizers today to ask for their input on how they wish to run their sessions online. Once we have received all feedback, we will then begin creating a revised conference schedule. Conference registration information will be available this summer.
Although conference registration and WiG membership will be required to attend the majority of conference events, we aim to offer a reduced registration fee. We also plan to allow members to donate conference registration fees to cover the costs for graduate student and contingent faculty participation.
One positive effect of hosting the conference virtually is that many members who were previously not planning on attending due to cost of travel or prevalence of fall conferences may be able to join us. We welcome all to attend—and look forward to connecting with one another in this way. We also greatly look forward to being able to greet everyone in person again the following year.
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.
The WiG Leadership Team and the 2021 Conference Committee
In light of recent legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people, especially trans and nonbinary people, we, the leadership of the Coalition of Women in German, reiterate our full support for the rights of all. We celebrate the vast array of gender identities and sexual orientations in our organization and in our communities.
The Coalition of Women in German was founded to foster a space for people identifying as women in the field of German Studies to gather and share ideas freely within a supportive, feminist community. Today that space has expanded beyond a single gender identity. As so-called TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) have become more vocal, it is crucial for feminist organizations such as WiG to push back against this understanding of what feminism means and who is included. The Coalition of Women in German does not support any feminism that excludes trans and nonbinary people.
WiG also stands adamantly against all recent legislative efforts to curb the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Trans and nonbinary people deserve accessible healthcare at any age. It is absolutely unacceptable to normalize discrimination against trans and nonbinary people and to enshrine it in our laws. By even proposing this legislation, lawmakers deliberately endanger the lives of LGBTQ+ people. The Coalition of Women in German has signed this collective statement in support of trans and nonbinary people. We will not turn our heads to this violence. At our upcoming May leadership meeting we intend to vote on a change to our by-laws that would require us to “evaluate all conference locations with regard to how welcoming and accessible they are to all members of our community.”
As discussed in our community agreement, we recognize the need to evaluate all aspects of our organization to ensure that they align with our values. (For example, it is impossible to write this statement without mentioning the fact that our name, while representing a deeply meaningful and long-standing history, is not as inclusive as it could be.) The leadership of WiG calls on our members to share their thoughts with us about how we can and should take action within our organization to affirm and support both our current members and those who might be members, if they felt more welcomed. Please use the GoogleForm located in the email version of this statement to share any thoughts that you have regarding actions WiG might want to consider moving forward.
Resources on trans and nonbinary people and language in a Germanophone context:
We, the leadership team of the Coalition of Women in German, condemn the horrific murders of eight people in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. This act was motivated by anti-Asian racism, white supremacy, and misogyny. We are frustrated to see news coverage and statements by law enforcement that seek to minimize the hateful foundation out of which these actions arose. We express our deep solidarity with all Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander members of our communities. The violence against these communities has a long history in North America and in Europe that has too often been ignored. This ignorance extended to our own recent community agreement in which we failed to articulate our commitment to anti-Asian racism in the statement of our core values. We have revised this statement so that the final line now reads: “Members’ scholarship and practice aim to address and challenge manifestations of antisemitism, anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-Muslim, xenophobia, classicism, and ableism, as well as anti-Indigenous, anti-immigrant, anti-Roma, anti-Asian, anti-Black and other forms of racism in creative, compassionate, productive, and intersectional ways.”
We promise to live up to these values by using our collective voice to rebuke and act against anti-Asian racism and misogyny however and whenever we can.
Here are some resources for continued education and action:
Weare writing to share the wonderful news that Beverly Weber (University of Colorado Boulder) has been appointed Co-Editor of Feminist German Studies for a three-year term starting in January 2022. Beverly will be joining Alexandra Hill as FGS Co-Editor at the conclusion of Co-Editor Hester Baer’s term. Beverly comes to the position with a strong record of research, publication, and editing experience. The search committee was especially impressed with Beverly’s dedication and leadership within the organization, her vision for the journal, and her demonstrated understanding of the importance of strong feminist mentorship and the role that the journal plays in mentoring scholars at various stages in their lives and careers. Beverly’s commitment to antiracist feminism, decolonization, and social justice as well as her desire to facilitate transdisciplinary conversations across fields will serve the journal well. We are truly honored that Beverly has agreed to accept this position and look forward to seeing the continued rigorous and innovative feminist scholarship that will emerge in the years ahead.
We wish to thank the search committee members for their hard work: Angineh Djavadghazaryans, Carrie Smith, Lisa Hock, Rob McFarland, and Helga Thorson.
In addition to the statement released in WiG’s December 2020 newsletter by the Presidential Team, President Helga Thorson and Vice President Maria Stehle, we, the entire Leadership Team of the Coalition of Women in German want to apologize to all of our members, and particularly to our Black members, for the harm done through the use of racist language during our conference. Such language has no place inside of WiG or within our professional spaces. As the leaders of this organization, we had the power to intervene and we regretfully did not. We should have stepped in right away to address this harm and we failed to do so, thereby normalizing white supremacy and anti-Black racism within the conference and organization.
To our Black members: We are deeply sorry for our inaction during this crucial moment and wish to reiterate how much we value your vital contributions to the organization and profession. We understand that there is nothing we can do to change the hurt caused by this event and that trust can only be earned and healing can only be achieved through continued action. We recognize that we have a lot more work to do in order to be an organization that truly lives up to its own anti-racist, feminist values and are committed to doing and being better in our present and future actions, for which the following community agreement form a point of departure.
Anti-racism, which forms a cornerstone of intersectional feminist activism, requires that all of our members, and especially our white members, join us by committing to do this necessary work within their own spheres of influence.
We have set up a slack space with various channels for different mentoring needs. For example, we have channels for alt-ac careers, contingency, administration, advocacy, graduate students, starting the t-t, parenting and care work, and working towards anti-racist future (more can be added as needed).
Anybody can donate to WiG and support graduate student research, the dissertation prize, and the essay prize. Just head over to ourmembership management site. Or add us to your Amazon Smile account and watch for our sales of WiG swag to support contingent faculty!