The EUI’s Ursula Hirschmann Annual Lecture

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This week Nancy Fraser will visit the EUI to deliver the 2017 Ursula Hirschmann Annual Lecture. The lecture is titled ‘Capital, Care and Progressive Neoliberalism: A Feminist Critique.’

The lecture series was established in 2001 by the Gender Studies Programme Founding Director, Luisa Passerini. At the time Professor Passerini had received an ERC grant for research on women’s migration from East to West Europe, and used some of the money to support the first lectures.

Ursula Hirschmann

Ursula Hirschmann

Ursula Hirschmann (1913-1991) was an anti-fascist and European federalist activist. Along with her husband, Eugenio Colorni, Hirschmann became heavily involved in anti-fascist action in Italy as a young woman. When Colorni was arrested and exiled to Ventotene, Hirschmann followed him, and together the couple became acquainted with other Italian intellectuals such as Ernesto Rossi and Altiero Spinelli. This meeting of minds resulted in the Ventotene Manifesto for a European Federation, and then the foundation of the European Federalist group. Hirschmann became a messenger and a mediator for the group, and even smuggled the manifesto off the island. She was, Passerini explained, ‘a courageous woman.’

After Colorni’s murder, Hirschmann married Altiero Spinelli and continued her dangerous campaign against fascism and for European federalism. In Brussels, in 1975, she founded Femmes pour l’Europe (Women for Europe). The movement brought together female representatives from both feminist and political circles, and aimed to promote gender equality in Europe. ‘They were mostly the wives of Eurocrats, who didn’t reject the identity of wife because that was part of their identity as women, but who also wanted to ask, what can  women do for Europe?’ Passerini explained.

The lecture series commemorates ‘an important figure, who has been largely forgotten because of the role of her husbands,’ Passerini explained. ‘There is all this discourse about the fathers of Europe and we wanted to include a discourse on the mothers of Europe,’ she said. As such, the series links ideas of Europe and gender, and offers a space for comment and reflection on the construction of Europe today.

Previous speakers who have delivered the Ursula Hirschmann Annual Lecture include Ruth Bader Ginsberg (2016), Lynn Hunt (2014), Catharine MacKinnon (2010) and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (2005).

The Ursula Hirschmann 2017, delivered by Nancy Fraser, will take place on the 16 March 2017 from 4 to 6 pm, in Sala del Consiglio (Villa Salviati). Register here.