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Producing the Living Gender History Podcast

Members of SWBG took part in the Living Gender History Podcast episode The Politics of Care in Scotland – listen to the episode

Guest blog by Eliska Bujokova

When the idea of producing a podcast was first brought up at one of our Centre for Gender History virtual meetings during the pandemic, I was immediately intrigued. I think more then ever, a lot of us historians felt disillusioned with our work. Archives were closed and we simply couldn’t do what we do best, that is get stuck in our sources and forget about the passage of time. In fact, the passage of time became a source of existential dread, second only to the one caused by our inability to comprehend, analyse and historicise the events we lived through. The podcast served us all as a much-needed project, as well as a way to contribute to a discourse that is current, as living in and for the past seemed more irrelevant than ever. It became a medium of making our own work, interests and expertise speak to a broader audience than is generally the case for early career academics. The composition of our collective has changed a number of times and so have some of our ideas about the message we intended the podcast to convey, but I personally think that what we have produced in the end is an enthralling series of insightful dialogues as well as a great start of an on-going collaboration between the project’s producers.

The two episodes produced by Anna McEwan and myself focus on care, which is a rather interesting subject to be studying in a time like this. Habitually, I research care in the eighteenth century. When I started my research two years ago, care debates were still on the margins of the mainstream, mostly featuring in texts of feminist economics, care ethics and the study of global labour markets. As a result of the pandemic, this has changed beyond recognition. Care has become largely debated by mainstream commentators, policy makers and the general public, with the notion of a caring economy gaining momentum. Though, as many have pointed out, the idea of putting care and dependency at the centre of social and economic analysis has in many instances been co-opted by empty performative gestures, and the much needed conversations about what a caring economy actually means were often obfuscated by the much louder clapping for the NHS. The first of our two episodes on care hopes to look past the calls for a feminist new deal and think about what care in Scotland really looks like in the here and now, and what the plans for reforming the care regime currently in place will be able to deliver. In the second episode, we go back to the beginning of the pandemic and talk to a number of carers as partners, parents and teachers and think together about what caring really means in the everyday and how the pandemic has made us rethink and reconceptualise the nature of responsibility for care.

My own takeaways from this project are manifold. I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations with our guest speakers, including the members of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, who have been so generous with their time, insights and personal experiences. I have worked through and in spite of my fear of all things technical and learned a thing or two about the practicalities of research impact. I have also been able to find a new route for utilising my research that feels current and conversational, qualities often lacking in academic work for someone as exceedingly verbal as myself. I hope this rather personal account of the podcast production may offer an interesting behind-the-scenes of what I hope to be a long-lasting project, as well as an invitation for our listeners to raise questions, comments and subjects of interest they may wish to hear us engage with in the future. I hope that you enjoy the podcast as much as I enjoyed taking part in its making, and that the message of the series, that is, that gender history can be a living subject bringing together the academy, community, activism, politics and personal lived experiences, is made manifest in each of our episodes.

Listen to the Living Gender History podcast – members of SWBG took part in the latest episode - The Politics of Care in Scotland.

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