Work at the expo office is pretty much non-stop at the moment; time is ticking as our suffrage-centenary conference, ‘The Heritage of Women in Exploration’ grows ever closer. To keep everyone in the loop, we thought we’d give the lowdown – the Who? What? When? Where?– of this special event.
What’s it all about anyway?
2018 marks the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK and throughout the year there will be lots of fantastic celebrations happening all over the UK, and we jumped when the opportunity arose to put an adventurous spin on things. So, after many months of planning, we’re thrilled to be running two adventure-themed events in London on the 21st June (a daytime conference, and an evening talk with Q&A). We’ll hear about a vast range of subjects relating the History of women explorers from 9 fantastic speakers and 2 talented filmmakers. To give you a brief flavour of what to expect on the day, we’ve summarised three of the topics for our blog…
Shout Loud. Be Proud.
So one we’ve all sat down after the morning coffee break, Jacki Hill-Murphy (best-known as The Adventuress) will get straight to the point in her talk, in which she will explain why we should shout out for the early female explorers. Have you ever heard of Isabella Bird? She rode on a yak across the Digar-La in Ladakh! How about Mary Kingsley? She pioneered a new route to the summit of Mount Cameroon. There’s also Kate Marsden, who sledged across Russia and Siberia in the depths of winter. Information on these adventurers is available at our fingertips; their scientific findings were published at the time in books and lectures, and yet, they remain unsung heroines. It’s time to share their stories and research with the world. Jacki will explain how we have much to learn from the works of the explorers, not just as scientists, but as strong women. These unique explorers broke away from the confines of society and provided substantial contribution to our knowledge of the most far-flung corners of the world, whilst channeling great bravery and tenacity in an era when men heralded. By exploring their stories, we have much to honour and much to learn.
Equality and Archaeology!
Later in the day, Ethnohistorians Alicia Colson and Penelope Foreman, will be exploring women’s historical participation in archaeological studies. An adventurous profession by nature, Archaeology requires its practitioners to push the frontiers of exploration, science, ideas, methods, theories and techniques in order to uncover humanity’s past. What’s more, is that the women of early archaeology had to challenge the status quo of society on top of everything else! This field of research was dominated by men, yet many influential discoveries were made – you guessed it – by women. Alicia and Penelope will present a timeline of Archaeology from the beginning of the profession, in the 19th century, to the present day, and will shed light on the stories of inspiring ‘badass’ women, such as Gertrude Bell, and how we can tackle the ongoing discrimination to be found within the Archaeological sector today.
Woman with ALTitude
Now for something slightly different: during the day conference we’ll be screening a short film sent to us by young explorer, Elise Wortley, who is currently journeying through the Himalayas on foot, in an attempt to retrace the steps of Belgian-French explorer, Alexandra David-Néel. Elise’s inspiration abandoned her European life in the 19th century, and trekked around Asia for 14 years. Elise first read Alexandra’s famous book ‘My Journey to Lhasa’ when she was 16, and the wisdom of the book has stayed with her throughout her life, hence, to honour the courage and strength David-Néel, this she is undertaking a comparable journey herself without modern trekking equipment (!).
In this short film, we’ll see and hear much more about Elise and Alexandra’s intertwined Himalayan journeys, and explore how they’ve both faced fears, pursued dreams, and inspired women around the world to push their own personal boundaries, whatever they may be.
“I want to show that women were, and still are, at the forefront of adventure and shaping the way in which we travel”
– Elise Wortley