Last week, I attended the 1st Asian and European Conference of Women’s Museums on Feminist Pedagogy: Museums, Memory Sites and Practices of Remembrance in Istanbul, Turkey. This was the second conference I have attended in Istanbul, the first in 2016 about women’s museums and social inclusion. As anticipated, it was a very important and intense gathering. Seeing old friends and making new connections is always essential for these conferences, but it was the sharing of work, new initiatives, and life and death stories by the women themselves that carries the most power. I am a still a bit stunned as I walk back into the ‘real’ world, with all this new knowledge and emotion I have absorbed.
From the opening panel on feminist storytelling, to the final one on making the future, there was a large mix of presentations—some uplifting, others devastating—but all inspiring in their own ways. With people giving their talks primarily in Turkish or English, the translators were phenomenal in keeping up with all the switching of languages. It also reminds those of us who use the privilege of speaking in English that we are a real minority and must stretch ourselves to appreciate how one’s native language can be vital to identity and experiences.
I delivered a workshop on our Sites of Girlhood project. This is a new initiative that Girl Museum will launch next year, with some help from our workshop participants. It was an enjoyable time, and we were encouraged that we are on the right track, yet with much to learn and teach through the process.
Gatherings like this are so important for story-sharing and supporting women in their lives and work. It was also wonderful to get together with the other members of the IAWM (International Association of Women’s Museums) to exchange ideas and discuss collaborations. Istanbul holds so many special memories for me and this amazing group of women. A special thanks to Meral, Ayşe Gül, Nehir, Sehlem and all the conference organizers and documenters. And, of course, Astrid and Mona from IAWM. I so look forward to the next conference!
-Ashley E. Remer
Girl Museum Inc.