Interview with Dr. Irma McClaurin, Activist Anthropologist & Co-Chair for Seneca Falls Revisited: Women’s Equality Weekend 2018

June 29, 2018|ACTIVIST/ANTHROPOLOGIST

Aug 23-26, 2018 Seneca Falls Revisited: Women’s Equality Weekend Conference and Retreat will be held  in Rochester, NY. Registration Information.

I spoke with Dr. Irma McClaurin, a Black feminist activist and anthropologist, just days after her return from Taiwan where she met with the staff of Fulbright Taiwan to discuss the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Irma created the Black Feminist Archive in order to preserve the intellectual and activist contributions of Black women that are rarely recorded in traditional archives. Throughout our conversation, it quickly became clear to me that she is a woman on a mission to lift up other women and to tell their stories for years to come.

Irma McClaurin, PhD

Long before the archive, Dr. Irma traveled to Belize to study and document the experiences of Belizean womanhood in the remote district of Toledo. She wrote about her travels in her ethnography titled Women of Belize: Gender and Change in Central America. While there, she realized that despite cultural differences, womanhood in Belize was similar to her own in the U.S. and in Chicago where she grew up.

Dr. Irma with Women of Belize, 1996

As an activist anthropologist, Dr. Irma is devoted to uncovering those who are missing from historical narratives and taking the actions necessary to be more inclusive as possible.  She did so with the Black Feminist Archive and we are lucky enough to have her doing the same with the Women’s Equality Weekend conference! As co-chair, she believes that the key to understanding what’s next for women’s equality is to take into account who is not represented in the historical Seneca Falls Convention narrative and ensure their representation in the 170 year commemoration of it. Its no surprise that Dr. Irma describes a better world as one where equal pay is given for equal work, women of color are on the same footing as their white sisters, women have equal representation, and humanity has regained its sense of morality.

Pictured: Dr. Irma (left), in Taiwan

You can catch Dr. Irma at the Women’s Equality Weekend where she, along with co-chair Deborah Hughes, will direct “Race & Gender,” a panel discussion on the impact of race and gender on the future of women’s equality. What are you waiting for? Registration is open now!


This blog is written by Christina Saint Louis, a rising-senior at Barnard College of Columbia University and a fellow at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies. For questions or comments, email: blog@crewomen.org.