Feminist Lives: Reprising the Conversation

Yasmine Ergas, Project Director

In the late 1970s, I conducted a series of in-depth interviews with Italian feminists living in Rome (of whom, I was one).  This project builds on these interviews and -- to the extent possible -- seeks to repeat and extend them.  The interviews I now propose to conduct have three purposes. First, re-enacting the same setting several decades on – I am still the interviewer, each woman is still the interviewee, at least a substantial part of the interview will remain the same (as much as possible, the same questions will be asked) -- I hope to explore the dynamics of narrative and memory. How closely does each woman’s story of her childhood, schooling, early romances, sometimes first marriage, and activist experiences repeat the accounts elicited then? What can each person tell me about the reasons for the changes I will be able to pick up? Second, I seek to explore how those years of feminism shaped their lives. Do they identify as members of a political generation? Did feminism (as they understood it then, and as they understand it now)  function as an anchor as they navigated adulthood and does it do so today?  To what extent – in their own telling -- did it color their ways of being, permeate their friendships, affect their perceptions of the societies they have lived in? Finally, to the degree possible on the basis of the 1978 tapes, I want to inquire into the question of self-foreshadowing.  Did they become the women they thought they were going to be?