by Kate Carruthers Thomas
Happy accidents of conference programming yesterday took me outside the conference venue, further into the city and the North East region, both physically in terms of the Feminist Walk and intellectually/visually in terms of the Tyneside Specificities session. This second day was in striking contrast to the first which I spent entirely in the conference venue, engaged in the processes and practices of conferencing and the developing sociality of Undisciplining. Fresh air and physical exercise were welcome antidotes to that interior intensity.
The Feminist Walk offered opportunities not only for my Fitbit step count however, but more importantly, to engage with the city’s feminist history through visible landmarks, testimonies and voices – participants each carried a book from the Women Artists of the North East Library and were encouraged to read aloud from it. Back within the walls of the BALTIC, the Tyneside Specificities then provided interdisciplinary perspectives on and wider insights into, the city/region: on Newcastle urban planning and consultation and the maps of the unbuilt; on Gateshead women experiencing the ‘slow violence’ of austerity (just beyond the BALTIC); on the curious case of the ‘splintered’ Englishness of the North East and on the managed disposal of social housing in Hordern, Co. Durham, where the blank-eyed, empty homes are part of a contraflow of capital and people between the North and South East of England.
Each of the above, in different ways, drew on ideas of place and people, on the everyday, to deeply consider lives ‘in place’. Each enriched my own experience of being in place, in this city, at this time. Live blogging has, for sure, enriched that experience further.