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Counterpublics revisited: A case study of the Vancouver Women's Library

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The notion of counterpublics is revisited by means of a detailed documentation of the founding in early 2017 of the Vancouver Women’s Library (VWL) and of its early history. Co-founded by the author, the VWL is described as a hands-on experience in the intellectual, socio-political and organisational dynamics of a twenty-first century continuation of the feminist bookstore movement, which saw its height in the 1970s and 80s. Following up on theoretical work done by Michael Warner, the author makes the point that the VWL provides a living instance of the formation of a feminist counterpublic. The recirculating of the unique relationship between women and books lead to the VWL positioning itself as a counterpublic for women. She recounts the spontaneous, cause-related support between women writers and publishers of earlier days and shows that it has been the VWLs aim to re-awaken this with an emphasis on alternative public circuits of information sharing. Moreover, the story is told of protests and controversy that arose when some of those who identified themselves within the same VWL counterpublic disagreed with its structuring. The conclusion is reached that a counterpublic is spontaneous, ungovernable and ontologically separate from its site of engagement.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
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