We are pleased to announce the winner of the FWSA 2016 Book Prize competition: Dr Deborah Withers. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make the competition a success. Further information about the FWSA Book Prize competition can be accessed online here.

2016: Dr Deborah Withers for ‘Feminism, Digital Culture and the Politics of Transmission: Theory, Practice and Cultural Heritage’

Feminism, Digital Culture and the Politics of Transmission argues that despite the prevalence of generational narratives within feminism, the technical processes through which knowledge is transmitted across generations remain unexplored. Taking Bernard Stiegler’s concept of the already-there as its starting point, the book considers how the politics of transmission operates within digital culture. It argues that it is necessary to re-orient feminism’s political project within what is already-there so that it may respond to an emergent feminist tradition. Grounded in the author’s work collecting and interpreting the music-making heritage of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement, it explores how digital technologies have enabled impassioned amateurs to make ‘archives’ within the first decade of the 21st century. The book reflects on what is technically and politically at stake in the organization, and transmission of digital artefacts, and explores what happens to feminist cultural heritage when circuits shut down, stall, or become diverted (Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd).

Focusing on the digital and on the project of bringing to life a specific archive, the musical legacy of the Women’s Liberation Movement, the book asks what is at stake in the creation, sharing and reproduction of archives and artefacts, and how political movements are constituted through practices of transmission. It raises provocative questions about what it means to create archives, the work involved in making dormant archives live and breathe, to care for digital archives so that they have a future, raising important points about the feminist politics of resisting a dominant ‘systemic stupidity’ in an innovation-obsessed digital culture that favours short-term accessibility over longevity. In particular, I appreciated its creative challenge to the fashionable tendency to dismiss the work of the Women’s Liberation Movement, and to refuse the current notion of such work as, as the author puts it, ‘off-limits’.

— Judge’s comment

Withers very successfully examines how knowledge is transmitted within digital culture. Using a feminist approach, her arguments concerning how values and knowledge are transmitted are very convincing. This book is apposite, accessible and informative.

— Judge’s comment