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Purpose and Profit

Purpose and Profit

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How have activists used publishing and bookselling to empower readers, create writers and establish communities? What is the role of business in social justice movements, in the past and in the future? How are the rights and interests of people from different communities transformed when they are published and consumed in the marketplace?
This inspirational panel of pioneering social entrepreneurs and historians discusses how ideas can be shared through the commercial world. It reflects on how businesswomen in times gone by have shared ideas of social justice with great effectiveness, offering inspiration and courage in uncertain present times. With Aimée Felone, Managing Director of  Knights Of, Pauline Rutter, archival artist and historian and Carolynn Bain, award-winning businesswoman. Chaired by Margaretta Jolly, director of The Business of Women’s Words.

Carolynn Bain has  become a key influencer in Brighton. Her heart to see diversity in a city she loves dearly, and to change the narrative for marginalised communities led her to create the award-winning bookshop Afrori Books in 2020.  Afrori Books is the UK’s largest supplier of books by black authors, Brighton’s first black-owned bookshop, and (most importantly) a hub and safe haven for black people and their allies in East Sussex. She is behind a number of successful initiatives including The Anti-racist kids club, Open Shelves (books to prisoners) Supper club, Brighton Book Festival, Hair education Brighton, Brighton literary collective. 

Margaretta Jolly has worked at the University of Sussex since 2007. She is a Professor in Cultural Studies with a specialism in Life Writing, Oral History and Audio/Visual Life Story-telling. She has special interests in the particular application of these methods in women's history and gender studies, directing the Sisterhood and After: Women's Liberation Oral History Project and the Business of Women's Words with the British Library. She currently leads on cultural industry studies in the University. In 2022She was appointed a Director of Research (Knowledge Exchange and Impact) for the School, continuing this work in 2024.

Aimée Felone is Managing Director of Knights Of, winner of Children’s Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards 2022. She founded and runs the multi award-winning inclusive publisher, and is focused on bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront of commercial children’s publishing. With a team led by women of colour, and an unwavering focus on their intended readership for each book, Knights Of works to engage with gatekeepers across the industry, including booksellers, teachers and librarians, and supports non-traditional community spaces with events, outreach, marketing and partnerships.

Pauline Rutter is an Archival Artist, community and organisational poet and researcher based in West Sussex with a background in fine art, education, sustainability, and activism. Her  academic and creative writing has been published online by The Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality Leeds Beckett University, The Culture Capital Exchange and The University of Oxford, Wytham Woods. She has contributed to the Writing Our Legacy ‘Covert’ Literary Magazine and was the Artist in Residence for Adur and Worthing Council’s Climate Assembly. Current work includes investigations expressed through the ‘The Black Living Archive’ initiative, the ‘We hear You Now’ project and the installation ‘Lifting Us Up- Saluting Our Sisters’ that has been installed at Brighton Museum and Gallery.

This event is hosted in partnership with the University of Sussex, with funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
The Business of Women’s Words: Purpose and Profit in Feminist Publishing (BOWW) explores the dramatic story of the feminist publishing revolution that unfolded during the UK Women’s Movements of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and their legacies for social movement inspired creative industries today. This research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, examines how activists called upon cultural and creative business activities to help promote their aims despite feminists’ general antipathy and sometimes hostility to capitalist methods and ideologies. The research unearths activists’ efforts to infuse purpose with profit and to reconcile business and financial imperatives with political, artistic and egalitarian commitments.

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