Utrecht NextGENDERation (UNG)


The idea of a locally organised NG group was inspired by encounters at the NOISE Women's Studies summer school of 1999. Led by a strong need to continue real life meetings and discussions, Natascha Unkart and Sonja van Wichelen took the initiative of starting Utrecht NextGENDERation or UNG.

Girls in the Academy series, by Natascha Unkart

We started with two-weekly meetings that one of us would prepare on a subject that she was working on or wanted to talk about. This included topics such as the meaning of 'generations' in feminism, the role of technology in our societies and how it changes our images of body and self, armed (ethnic) conflicts and state violence, contemporary androgynist imaginary, and much more.

With the 4th European Feminist Research Conference approaching in the late summer of 2000, UNG started to focus more on NG's contribution to this conference. A NG forum was planned as part of an evening programme of the conference, and attempts were made through the email list to mobilise the whole network for the organisation of that evening. This prooved a difficult way of working, and the need for more concrete working structures became strong. This is where UNG, that had already a collective way of working by that time, came in: as part of a broader evening programme, we proposed to develop a performance.

The performance was an experimentation with the boundaries of academic formats: we wanted to take images that somehow struck us as our point of depature. In dialogue with those images we wrote texts, and also looked for music to add yet another dimension to what we wanted to express.

For a selection of images and texts of the performance, ENTER HERE

After Bologna, we were invited to do the performance at other locations: both in the academic world, i.e. at Utrecht University and at the Institute for Social Studies in Den Hague, and in an art/activism context, at the Cyberfeminist Working Days in the context of Brussels Cultural Capital 2000. Our final performance in February 2001 in Amsterdam was an intervention at a discussion evening about contemporary feminism in The Netherlands, organised by the Dutch feminist journal Lover.

UNG started as a temporary group, and after a year of activities the group somehow dissolved again, as many of us were moving on to different places - physically, but also theoretically and politically. As we took time to let the experiences, and positive feedback and criticism, sink in, some of us went on to engage seriously with the difficult questions of how to shape or structure a network such as NG, making use of what we learned during our UNG journey.

Women who have at some point participated in UNG: Diana Anders, Rutvica Andrijasevic, Francesca Balbo, Eefje Bosch, Sarah Bracke, Giulia Guadagnoli, Ingrid Hoofd, Ilse Lazaroms, Mischa Peters, Federica Riva, Barbara Schleicher, Chantal Soeters, Natascha Unkart, Ana Varela Mateos, Esther Vonk, Sonja van Wichelen, Lotte van Zandwijk.