Sheila Rowbotham: ‘Interactions between left ideas of participatory democracy and workers’ control in the Women’s Liberation Movement from the late 1960s through the 70s’
These links which were extremely important at the time have been obscured by the residual weight of the reaction that followed from 1979. The result was to be a lacuna which makes it difficult to connect with their significance for the present. In my lecture I will outline some of the ways I observed these manifesting themselves, stressing the enriching impact as well as the problems that resulted in trying to implement them in practice. I hope in doing so to stimulate others to follow through some of these lost threads in deeper and more specific detail. We need to connect with and carry our lost theoretical and experiential assets into a dynamic renewal of a democratic and personally fulfilling ‘socialism’.
Sheila Rowbotham is a pivotal figure at the intersection of feminism, history and socialist theory and movements. A key activist in the emergence of the women’s liberation movement in Britain, she was a pioneer in thinking through the relations between histories from below and feminist approaches to history. Among her key contributions from this period are Women, Resistance and Revolution; Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World; and Hidden from History. Her recent books include Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (Verso, 2008), Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century (Verso, 2010) and Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States (Verso, 2016). She is an Honorary Fellow of Manchester University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.