Rereading the Archives: Uncovering Spaces of Feminist Engagement in IWAC (International Women's Anthropology Conference)


  • Elizabeth Youngling,

  • Jamie Arjona,

  • Ofira Fuchs,

  • Agnes Sohn,

  • Natalye Tate


ABSTRACT  IWAC—the International Women's Anthropology Conference—has grown over four decades from a small New York–based organization to one that is truly global in scope and agenda. Inspired by the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s and early 1970s, three anthropologists, Eleanor Leacock, Constance Sutton, and Ruby Rohrlich-Leavitt, came together to form a feminist anthropology organization—the New York Women's Anthropology Caucus—dedicated to supporting women's struggles both inside and outside the Academy. In 1976, four years after its inception, the organization expanded to become IWAC. By using their anthropological expertise and connections with women in areas targeted for international development, IWAC members were able to provide the United Nations and other policymaking organizations with situated case studies of women's collective action and concerns. In this way, IWAC has charted a course for publicly engaged feminist anthropology that continues to resonate for engaged feminist scholars and activists today. [feminism, engaged anthropology, IWAC]