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2023 NWSA Annual Conference

A Luta Continua/The Struggle Continues: Resistance, Resilience, Resurgence


Proposal Submissions accepted between 2/15-4/12



The National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) leads the field of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Established in 1977, NWSA has more than 3,000 members worldwide. Our annual conference typically draws more than 1,500 attendees and is one of the only annual meetings in the US exclusively dedicated to showcasing the latest feminist scholarship. The 2023 NWSA conference theme, A Luta Continua/The Struggle Continues: Resistance, Resilience, Resurgence, captures the continuum of feminist resistance, past, present and future, and provides us with an opportunity to rethink what we offer at our conference and how we show up in Baltimore, ancestral homeland of Lumbee, Piscataway, and Cherokee nations and the site of many freedom struggles. For the first time, in addition to our usual schedule of events (our concurrent breakout sessions, receptions, pre-conferences), NWSA is offering a Pre-Conference day trip on Wednesday, a Teach-In on Palestine on Thursday, and a special sub-theme on pedagogical practices. 


This year marks a number of milestones in U.S. Civil Rights and feminist history: from the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington to the 55th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to the 50th anniversaries of Roe v. Wade, the Equal Pay Act, the American Indian Movement’s Wounded Knee Occupation, and the birth of hip-hop, which has emerged into a global scene of creative resistance. Against the backdrop of these key historical moments, we have witnessed the courage of those at the forefront of revolutions, anti-colonial struggles, and protest and liberation movements around the world, from Aotearoa to Turtle Island, from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Baltimore to Memphis, from Chile to Palestine, just to name a few. 


As earth-shattering as these movements have been since their inception - in reshaping gender liberation, racial justice, and the postcolonial state - they currently face a reckoning with the neoliberal, global, and militarized forces of what the late bell hooks identified as “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” We see this in the overturning of Roe through the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022). We are outraged by the threats against Affirmative Action and reproductive rights. We reject the anti-intellectual attacks against ethnic studies; women’s, gender and sexuality studies; African American studies; and queer studies. We protest the rise in hate crimes, homophobia, transphobia, gun violence, state violence, rape culture, political wars and conflicts, and the devastating impact of the climate crisis. 


It is exhausting, but we cannot afford to stop fighting oppression. We hold fast to the words of Ella Baker who once said, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” This statement of resistance, known to the world as a key line in “Ella’s Song,” sung by the legendary all female, all Back a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock (a movement in itself, also turning 50 this year), encapsulates the 2023 NWSA conference theme: A Luta Continua/The Struggle Continues. This slogan is itself a song title by South African singer Miriam Makeba in celebration of the rallying cry that led to Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975. How can these songs, calls for freedom, and reflections on historic liberation movements inspire the multitude of struggles in the twenty-first century?  


The city of Baltimore, where we gather this year, is the heart of a state that was very much at the border of the Mason-Dixon line and between “free state” and “slave state,” a line that the great Harriet Tubman crossed thirteen times to liberate herself and others. At this juncture, as NWSA returns to Baltimore, the historic significance of this location implores us to reflect on the continuity and change in our many struggles, historical and contemporary. We are called to cross those lines to freedom, to traverse the many borders, binaries and boundaries that separate us, to bridge those gaps across generations, to flip the scripts that confine our identities, and to build coalitions around our differences. We are also called to think about the ways race, place, and space intersect and how our gathering can be used as a collective moment to interact with the activists, artists, teachers, scholars, writers, and locally owned businesses in the area. What lessons are to be learned as we collectively aim to define freedom as we work to free ourselves and each other?


The conference sub-themes expand on this vision as we invite submissions that open up conversations about our collective resistance, resilience, and resurgence.


We encourage submissions from anyone who wishes to participate in this continuum of resistance, including professors, activists, graduate/undergraduate and high school students, independent scholars, first-time presenters, artists, community healers, women’s and gender studies scholars, historians, and researchers. We invite papers, panels, performances, roundtables, and workshop proposals that build creatively and critically on our theme and sub-themes. We strongly encourage independent scholars, non-academic writers, artists, researchers, and organizers to propose panels and presentations and be included in sessions alongside community college, college, and university-based scholars. We suggest that you see our sub-themes as loose boundaries through which to frame your work.


Sub-themes for the 2023 conference 

  1. The Praxis of Transnational Feminist Solidarity
  2. Intergenerational Feminist Struggles
  3. Revisiting, Reclaiming & Re-imagining: Past, Present, Future 
  4. Climate Justice & Feminist Horizons 
  5. Geographies of Violence: Bodies, Borders, Nations
  6. Creativity as Dissidence & Resistance
  7. Abolitionist Feminisms & Politics of Liberation
  8. Special Sub-Theme: Pedagogies of Resistance and Hope: Teaching to Transgress* 

 *For this special sub-theme, we invite scholars and teachers to submit proposals for workshops to come together and share creative ideas, lesson plans, assessments, and pedagogical practices. This is designed to be more workshop than paper presentations and is designed to be both practical and hands-on.


The submission deadlines for proposals are as follows: This site will open on February 15, 2023, and remains open until April 12, 2023, at 11:59 pm EST. Conference notification will be sent on or by May 1, 2023, 11:59 pm EST. Acceptances will not be considered official until all session participants have joined NWSA and are registered for the conference.



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