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Young women as creators of new cultural spaces

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Hertha-Firnberg Stipendium (funded by the Austrian Science Fund / gefördert vom Fonds für wissenschaftliche Forschung / FWF)
Project coordinator: Dr. Elke Zobl

A new phenomenon in female youth culture is the immense growth of non-profit, community-based, queer-feminist festivals created by young women that showcase and encourage the artistic, organizational and political work of women, so called “Ladyfests”. Originating in Olympia (USA) in 2000, these Ladyfests have spread across the globe: In the past ten years (2000-2010) 263 Ladyfests have taken place in 34 countries.
But why has there been such a proliferation of Ladyfests? Do Ladyfests offer a new space and strategy where young women can create community, build activism, and express themselves culturally and politically? What possibilities, limitations and vulnerabilities with attention to class, race, gender and age dynamics do Ladyfests have?
Most research so far has looked at youth as consumers of mass culture and neglected the degree of their active involvement in cultural productions. This study takes Ladyfests as an example and point of departure for an exploration of cultural practices by young women today. The main aims are to assess, analyze and interpret the creation of Ladyfests by young women as new cultural spaces in the history of women-owned and feminist spaces and in the context of three discourses, namely (a) young women as cultural producers, (b) the post-feminist ‘undoing of feminism’ (McRobbie), and (c) the concept of active youth citizenship. Central to an in-depth analysis are the consideration of intersecting and interwoven notions of power (Foucault), space (Lefebvre, Massey, Soja), and gender (Butler, McRobbie, Harris). My main question is: Do Ladyfests mark a new cultural space because of new modes of expression, communication, networking, and cultural and political engagement of and among young women on a local and global, real and virtual level that break with traditional frameworks and offer new possibilities for the enactment of youth citizenship?
The study builds on my previous research on independent media production of young women. Methododically, first an analysis of Ladyfests and interrelated projects and participants will be conducted, archiving and providing all information on a web site that will be built during the course of this project ( Second, a survey with Ladyfest organizers, performers and audience members as well as case studies of Ladyfests in various countries will be conducted to explore these cultural spaces and practices in-depth.

• Elke Zobl: Zehn Jahre Ladyfest: Rhizomatische Netzwerke einer lokalen, translokale und virtuellen queer-feministischen Szene. In: Wolfgang Fichna / Rosa Reitsamer (Hg:) ‘They Say I’m Different ...’ Popularmusik, Szenen und ihre AkteurInnen, Wien: Löcher Verlag, 2010, 208-227.
• Rosa Reitsamer / Elke Zobl (2010): Youth Citizenship und politische Bildung am Beispiel der Ladyfeste. In: Magazin Das Fachmedium für Forschung, Praxis und Diskurs. (print and online, Issue 11/2010
• Elke Zobl: Cultural Production, Transnational Networking, and Critical Reflection in Feminist Zines. In: Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 35(1), Autumn 2009, 1-12.
• Red Chidgey, Jenny Gunnarsson Payne and Elke Zobl: Rumours from around the bloc. Gossip, Rhizomatic Media, and the Plotki Femzine. Feminist Media Studies. Vol. 9 (4), December 2009: 477-491.
• Elke Zobl: Für eine kritische Reflexion und intersektionale Perspektive in feministischen Zines. In: Lorek, Hanne und Katrin Mayer, eds. Visuelle Lektüren / Lektüren des Visuellen. Textem Verlag, Matrial Verlag: Hamburg, 2009. 63-72.
• Kristen Schilt and Elke Zobl “Connecting the Dots: Riot Grrrls, Ladyfests, and the International Grrrl Zine Network”. In: Next Wave Cultures: Feminism, Subcultures, Activism (Critical Youth Studies), Anita Harris, ed. Routledge: New York, 2008. 171-192.
• Elke Zobl:„The Future of Feminism“? Ladyfeste als Plattformen feministisch-queerer Interventionen.“ AEP-Informationen. Arbeitskreis Emanzipation und Partnerschaft, Innsbruck, 2008. 20-21.
• Red Chidgey and Elke Zobl: “Ladyfest means you: Do-It-yourself queer feminist action!”. In: Here and Now! New Forms of Feminist Action. Erreakzioa-Reacción (ed.). sala rekalde: Bilbao, Madrid, 2008. n.p.
• Red Chidgey, Rosa Reitsamer, and Elke Zobl: "Ladyfest: Material histories of everyday feminist art production". n.paradoxa, Vol. 24, 2009, 5-12
• Elke Zobl: “Transnational networks of everyday feminist practices: From Grrrl Zine Network to Grassroots Feminism.” Zehar, Nr. 64. Arteleku (ed). San Sebastian, Spain, 2008: 90 – 101.
• Sonja Eismann and Elke Zobl: Myspace, your space, whose space is it? Web 2.0 im Spannungsfeld von Kapitalismus, Gegenöffentlichkeit und Feminismus. Kunstfehler, Salzburg. Winter 2007/08.
• Elke Zobl: „Pockets of Resistance: Grrrl Zines im Spannungsfeld von Selbstbestimmung und Ermächtigung.“ In: Lea Susemichel, Saskya Rudigier, Gabi Horak (Hg.): Feministische Medien. Öffentlichkeiten jenseits des Malestream. Helmer Verlag 2008. 41-55.

Talks and presentations:
• „Women Getting Crafty: Handarbeit als radikale künstlerisch-politische Praxis“, Vortrag 11/2007 (mit Sonja Eismann) an der Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien
• “Young women and the media: DIY strategies as self-empowerment”: Round table discussion mit Red Chidgey (UK), Stephanie Müller (DE), Sonja Eismann (D/A), Elke Zobl (A), CivilMedia 2007: UnConference: Participation 2.0, Salzburg, 11/2007.
• “The use of Web 2.0 in creating a collaborative transnational feminist anthology and website”, Civil Media, Salzburg. 12/2008
• „Kultureller Widerstand und kritische Reflexion in internationalen feministischen Zines“. Symposium: Feminist Press|ure: 25 an.schläge auf den Malestream, Wien. 11/2008.
• “DIY feminism.” Talk within Here and Now! New Forms of Feminist Action. Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain. 09/2008.
• “Grrrl Zines: Feminist self-publishing across the globe.” At: Mundos de Mujers / Women’s Worlds 2008 Conference, Madrid. 07/2008.
• At the Civil Media Conference, Salzburg, November 2009: Red Chidgey and Elke Zobl: „Alternative Media and Communication Processes Transformed"; Elke Zobl: Chair of panel discussion „Medien und sozialer Wandel", chair and organizer of panel discussion “Participatory culture and technology in on- and offline networks”.
• „Feministische Alternativmedien und das transnationale Zine Netzwerk“. Kommunikationswissenschaftlicher Tag 09 der ÖGK, Universität Salzburg, June 2009.
• Chair of round table discussion with Andy Bennett, Wolfgang Fichna, Jeremy Gilbert, David Muggleton and Rosa Reitsamer at the conference ‘They say I’m Different…’ Contemporary Research on Popular Music and Music Scenes, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. May 2009
• Member of panel discussion on International Women’s Day: “Woman as Protagonist – Über die Rolle von Künstlerinnen und Kunstwissenschafterinnen im Kulturbetrieb seit den 1970er Jahren”. Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg, Salzburg. 03/2009