Delivering the introductory address at Beyoğlu's Cezayir Conference Hall on Tuesday morning, Altınay welcomed over 40 participants from pioneering academic institutes across the world, including Utrecht University, Goldsmiths College, the London School of Economics, the University of Western Sydney, Lund University, Harvard University and SOAS University of London.
Highlighting the significance of memories of the past as wake-up calls for the present, Professor Cynthia Enloe of the Massachusetts-based Clark University emphasized the importance of exploring feminist explanations of women and war and looking beyond rigidly structured institutionalized memories of particular conflicts in order to gain a complete record of what they were really about.
Questioning the role of feminists in stirring an already boiling pot of war commemoration, Enloe reflected that women are not the first to contest memories of war. “Every monument or exhibition or holiday to commemorate a war anywhere in the world has been contested -- who should be remembered, what should be remembered and why?” According to Enloe, therefore, the consequences of feminist studies in this area are actually quite radical; not only do they raise the tally for the costs of war much higher than most people like to imagine, but they extend the length of the postwar period and challenge the rigid memory structure of individual nations.
“We are saying that the costs of war are more than anyone is willing to admit. Conventional commemorations of war list men who die in uniform but a feminist reckoning of the costs of war is much greater,” Enloe said, adding that to argue that women's memories are not just worthy of being remembered but of being shared, radically expands the notion of a warzone beyond the geography of conventional warfare.
Drawing to a close on Wednesday evening, the conference will host discussions on a broad range of issues, including Women's Narrative of War and Soldiering, Gendering Memories of Resistance, The Wars at “Home,” Visualizing Memories of War, and Reflecting on Feminist Memory Work.