9 Jun 2023 11:00 - 17:30 Room SG1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge


Please note, this event is now sold out.

Quentin Skinner lecture

Given by Katrina Forrester, Quentin Skinner Fellow

The feminist tradition is known for its critique of the state as an agent and enabler of patriarchal domination. In the decades following the Women’s Liberation Movements, feminists often fused this critique to a Marxist account of the capitalist state. Together, these theories of the state justified a revolutionary antagonism to efforts to wield the state as a tool for reform. Yet in practice, the revolutionary feminist struggles of this period often took a different approach. As this lecture will seek to show, they were struggles that operated ‘in and against the state’.

This ‘in and against’ logic characterised much feminist political thought and practice in the long 1970s, as revolutionary feminists of different ideological persuasions sought to transform the social conditions of work and life—in the factory, the household, the hospital, the office, the council estate, and the ‘local state’. This lecture will focus on British Marxist and socialist feminism in this era of deindustrialisation—an era when women’s work was being transformed with the reorganisation of social reproduction and the rise of informality and the service sector, when more women than ever worked within the state, and when the state shaped and structured vast areas of social, political, and economic life in ways that mediated the production of gender and gendered forms of labour. By exploring how feminists who critiqued the patriarchal, capitalist, and imperial state nonetheless struggled both within and against that state, it will chart their development of both disruptive and constructive orientations to state power.

This lecture will also suggest that we tell the history of radical political thought in this period through sites and forms of struggle—the demand, the strike, the squat, the council, and the city. Each of these struggles represents different degrees of incorporation by the state. They also offer lessons for thinking about the relation of revolution and reform today.

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Supported by:





11:00 - 11:30

Registration and refreshments

11:30 - 13:00

Welcome and introduction

Keynote lecture: Katrina Forrester (Harvard)
‘”In and against the state”: revolutionary feminism during deindustrialisation’

Chair: Duncan Bell (Cambridge)

13:00 - 14:00


14:00 - 15:30

Panel 1

‘When did working class women become modern? Women’s work, gender roles, and feminism in postwar Britain’
Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (UCL)

‘Andaiye and radical Caribbean internationalist feminism in the post independence era’
Imaobong Umoren (LSE)

Chair: Emma Mackinnon (Cambridge)

15:30 - 16:00


16:00 - 17:30

Panel 2

‘What does capitalism have against women? Revisiting the patriarchy debates’
Anne Phillips (LSE)

‘Socialist feminism now’
Amelia Horgan (Essex)

Chair: Jude Browne (Cambridge)

17:30 - 18:30

Drinks reception

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