Berkshire Conference of Women, Genders and Sexualities, 2023: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Big Berks!

28 June-2 July 2023, Santa Clara University, California

Oceans, Islands, and Continents:
Reconceptualizing the Spatialization of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Histories

Deadline: Monday, January 31, 2022

What does it mean to gather on the Ohlone peoples’ ancestral homeland, situated next to the San Francisco Bay, a gateway to the Pacific Ocean and Pacific Islands? What does it mean to convene, craft, share, and celebrate feminist histories in the ongoing contexts of climate change-fueled hurricanes and storm surges, sea level rise and coastal flooding, fires, and marine life extinction? What does it mean to celebrate fifty years of promoting and exploring histories of women, genders, and sexualities when immigrants, refugees, Indigenous and Black people, queer and trans communities are marginalized and subject to violence; political and individual freedoms are eroded; and growing autocratic and totalitarian regimes embolden racial nationalism?

We invite you—national and international scholars of all persuasions, and especially graduate students and early career colleagues—to collaborate with us in framing histories within broadly expansive configurations across time, space, and place. We seek to develop conversations across our interconnected yet disparate social, political, economic, and cultural worlds and to consider the transitions, transformations, and spatializations that keep them in constant flux. We solicit panels, papers, and workshops that help us consider what histories emerge when relations are formed and linkages are drawn that transcend traditional national borders and reference instead, for example, oceans, islands, or continents? What innovative or timeless feminist methodologies help us conceptualize and engage in conversations at new depths, attentive to the vastness of the oceans, lands, and islands we traverse and inhabit, as well as the importance of the care we give to a loved one, a garden, or a forest? What are the affective geographies and histories of spaces of refuge, resistance, and renewal? What are the gendered histories of water, rain, and rivers that move us into new understandings of the relationships among plants, animals, and humans? What are the specific histories of organizing against nuclear testing, deep sea drilling, rainforest destruction, political prisoners, femicide, human and sex trafficking, forced labor, state-based, anti-gay, lesbian, and trans legislation, and religious persecution that center women’s leadership as activists as well as mothers, daughters, sisters, partners, and friends? How do we illuminate the depths of connective organizing across Asia, North and South America, the Pacific and Caribbean Islands, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East? What are the ways these efforts transcend temporal and spatial boundaries?

As the Big Berks contemplates its fiftieth year of triennial conferences and plans for the future, we invite you to explore these questions through gendered analyses in addition to more spatially and temporally focused approaches.

We encourage submissions to engage activism and resistance, the local, global, and transnational, the biopolitical and necropolitical, as well as geographies that transcend the continental and the human. We also welcome submissions that explore interdisciplinary methodological, pedagogical, and digital humanities approaches that engage up to three of the themes listed below. Please begin by selecting the format of your proposal. You can choose to submit a single paper, traditional panel, roundtables, interactive workshop, lightning session, curriculum discussion/workshop, or other formats. Once you begin your submission you will be required to select up to three (3) of the following themes in order of relevance.


  • Activism, Resistance, and Feminisms
  • Affective Geographies of the Sacred, Religious, and the Secular
  • Bodies, Health, and (Dis)ability
  • Childhood, Family, and Reproduction
  • Decolonizing the Environment and the Post-Human
  • Disaster Capitalism, Social Death, and Femicide
  • Economies, Work, and Labor
  • Imperialism, Militarism, and Pacifism
  • Indigeneity, Colonialism, and Revitalization
  • Migrations, Diasporas, Refugees, and Borderlands
  • Queering and Querying Intimacies, Desire, and the Erotic
  • Racial Justice, Abolition, and Decolonization

The 2023 Berkshires conference will have a small theater setting for the ongoing screening of films submitted for viewing at the conference. To submit a film to be included as part of the screening, we offer a separate form on the submission site to provide required information for the film along with information for the format required to be included in the screening. Note that this venue does not allow for post-screening discussion nor responses and is distinct from submitting a panel or roundtable about a film.

Submissions for the 2023 conference will open on 1 September and end on 31 December 2021. For more information, please contact Sandra Trudgen Dawson,

The Berks is committed to encouraging new scholarship, especially by graduate students. If your session includes at least three presentations by graduate students and you would like your session flagged, please check "emergent scholars" on your session submission.

The Program Committee actively promotes the full and equitable inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, differently-abled people, and LGBTQ+ people. To that end, the Program Committee encourages session proposals that include diverse participants as well as participants in various career paths and of various ranks (i.e. senior and junior scholars, public historians, graduate students, independent historians, and historically-grounded scholars in any discipline).

We are planning for an in-person meeting. We also are monitoring the public health situation and will make adjustments accordingly.

To begin a submission, select a presentation type below:

Please note that all submissions require at least one abstract, and a 1-page CV for each participant.

Click here to download the full requirements for each submission type.



    Lightning Sessions are an opportunity for five to seven scholars to deliver very short presentations of their work (about five minutes each in length) followed by a ten to fifteen minute comment pulling together the themes of the session. This format is ideal if a group wants to explore a range of perspectives on an issue, get a broad sense of the state of the field on a topic, or offer several different answers to a larger question or problem. Lightning session organizers must submit a 250-word session abstract that describes the overall questions and goals of the session, as well as abstracts for each paper in the session. Paper abstracts, written by the individual presenters and submitted by the session organizer, should explain the presentation's argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field.


    Roundtables are structured discussions revolving around field specific themes and questions; the session consists of three to five discussants and a moderator, who takes an active role in the session. The roundtable is not a forum for the presentation of short papers; discussants may not read papers and may prepare no more than 3-5 minute responses to the questions being discussed. The purpose of this format is discussion and interchange among a group of scholars about a debate, question, or issue in the field. Participants will speak to each other rather than from a podium. The moderator will pose the questions and control the time given to each discussant to respond. After everyone on the panel has spoken and engaged with other panelists, the moderator will open the discussion up for participation by audience members.


    Traditional panels may consist of either three 20-minute papers, a chair, and an organizer, OR three 15-minute papers, a chair, an organizer, and a commenter. The chair's role is to introduce the papers, while the respondent's is to provide 10-15 minutes of commentary on the papers. Presenters will be held to stated time limits by the chair to ensure time for at least a 30-minute question-and-answer period. All panel proposals must include a chairperson (who may also serve as respondent). All panel organizers must submit a 250-word session abstract that describes the overall questions and goals of the session, as well as abstracts for each paper in the session. Paper abstracts, written by the individual scholars and submitted by the session organizer, should explain the presentation's argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field.


    These are panels in which the papers are pre-circulated. They must be completed and posted online by April 1, 2020 and all panelists (and possibly audience members) will read the papers in advance. Workshops may include up to 7 participants and a commentator. Panelists' 5-7 minute presentations will highlight key questions or problems in their papers. Commentators address each paper and talk about common themes for 10-15 minutes. Panelists engage in back-and-forth discussion with audience members and other panelists about their work. All panel organizers must submit a 250-word session abstract that describes the overall questions and goals of the session, as well as a 250-word abstract for each paper in the session. The paper abstracts, written by the individual scholars and submitted by the session organizer, should explain the presentation's methodology, sources, argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field.


    1. FILM