The Women’s Media Studies Network tenth anniversary event, which took place on 12th September, celebrated the on-going success of the network and recognised the diversity of events we have organised over the last ten years since we first met at Derby University. It was an opportunity to acknowledge the work of the steering committee, many of whom have happily continued to oversee the network’s events since that first meeting. Since 2001, we have debated and reflected on the importance of supporting and validating women’s research, practice and role as intellectuals and professionals in academic life and broader media practice in a wide-ranging series of collaborations with our network members.
The anniversary event, Mediating Women, War and Terror, examined the media’s role and representations of women throughout the last decade of conflict; offering sessions introduced by media practitioners and researchers to discuss issues surrounding women, war and terror on film, television and the print media. It was organised by three of the steering group: Margaret Montgomerie, Ros Brunt and Kaity Mendes at De Montfort University. The symposium involved a series of rich presentations by WMSN members. Rinella Cere (Sheffield Hallam University) explored the media representation of Muslim women radicalised in a post 9/11 society. Angela Martin collated a fascinating collection of film extracts with which she opened out discussion not only on the practice of finding, accessing and collating films on women’s political participation in conflict and peace processes but the gendered inflection of the experience of war, conflict and oppression in these films. Janet Harris (Cardiff University) gave an engaging account, from her perspective as an experienced practitioner, of her role in producing documentaries of war and peace and fielded lively discussion of the practice of embedded journalism. Finally, Milly Williamson (Brunel University) spoke on her current research into ‘Gender, racism and the British press: Islam, the Veil and the Limits of Freedom’.
This was a very successful and positive occasion which brought together women new to the network as well as long-standing supporters. Kaitlynn Mendes commented that the three organisers were ‘really pleased with not only the turn-out, but the high-quality papers and level of discussion and networking that the Women’s Network hopes to achieve.’ Showcasing Women, a feature of earlier Network events, made a welcome return. It provided an opportunity for women to advertise their own work, ask for colleagues to collaborate with them, or publicise any forthcoming activity they’re involved in. Mendes was pleased that ‘the Showcasing women feature was also popular and provided many of us a chance to share work – both completed and in the draft stage to one another. Overall, it was a great success and a wonderful way to celebrate 10 years of the network.’
Networking was, as always, prioritised and the hidden skills of steering group stalwart Margaret Montgomerie were revealed in the magnificent cake she had baked to commemorate the day and duly cut by the founding WMSN Chair Ros Brunt.
The event took place against a backdrop where we recognised that the environment of higher education is in a process of massive change and that its impacts will place increasing pressure on all media scholars and practitioners in general. Indeed we will continue to explore the gendered implications for the demands made upon our roles as educators and researchers in the light of these changes.
The next event, Media and Mothers’ Matters, taps into contemporary discussion of the media, media representation of the child and children’s media content in the context of current political, parental and policy debates. It takes place at the University of Winchester on Friday 21st October 2011 and is organised by Oluyinka Esan.