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Archives introduce themselves - MONAliesA - Feminist Library and Archive

By Tordis Trull

The MONAliesA was founded in the years of upheaval in 1989/90 in Leipzig. Since then, as a library, meeting place, archive and event venue, it has facilitated literary and political education and exchange especially among women, lesbians and transpeople of different generations.

The MONAliesA houses over 30,000 books, films, an extensive (historical) journal collection and other media, which are available as reference material and for loan to the general public. We possess a unique collection of published and unpublished evidence of the women's movement in East Germany, the women's movement history of the GDR and the Wende period, as well as documents from recent feminist history. In addition, the collection offers various media especially relevant to women, lesbians, transpersons and girls - for example, in the areas of sexuality, abuse and trauma, work and unemployment, feminist theory. Guidebooks, fiction, reference books, graphic novels, poetry and films complete the wide range. Thus, it is possible to approach a topic in different ways and through different literary genres. Our holdings are also actively used for scholarly purposes, both the secondary literature and, increasingly, the sources in the archive. We organize about 20-30 events a year in various formats: Lectures, workshops, excursions, exhibitions, readings and reading circles.

Innenansicht Bibliothek MONAliesA

Interior view of the Library MONAliesA / © MONAliesA

Our archival materials and unpublished printed works (gray literature) on the women's movement in the GDR and the years after 1989/90, as well as the "queer feminist archive," is particularly important in the new states, where the upheaval of 1989/90 led to ruptures also in the memory of the autonomous women's movement and, in addition, the realities of women's lives changed to such an extent that younger generations did not immediately inherit the experiences of older ones. This history is systematically preserved and made accessible in the MONAliesA, also digitally via the "Digital German Women's Archive" (DDF) and the META catalog of the i.d.a. umbrella organization. In addition, we are generating new contemporary historical sources from the 1980s and 1990s in Leipzig in interview projects (e.g. project "Struggles of the oppositional women's movement in the GDR during the transition period 89/90").
Through our focus on GDR women writers and the women's movement in the GDR/the period of upheaval in 1989/90, we aim to connect to local cultural and artistic traditions, commemorate them, develop them further, and attract a diverse audience. We are dedicated to cultivating the literary genres (e.g. protocol literature) and specific artistic conceptions that emerged during this period.

Leipzig not only has a women's movement past, but also a lively present in terms of women's politics and queer feminism. In addition to the now established women's clubs, there are groups and associations in this city that, far from the "bourgeois mainstream," critically examine existing gender roles and relations, mostly through pop-cultural forms of expression (festivals, magazines, posters, radio shows, etc.). As a rule, they work according to the D.I.Y. principle, which also means that they seldom form fixed structures that go beyond the specific occasion and are constantly (re)finding themselves. On the one hand, this mode gives the subculture a certain dynamism and flexibility. On the other hand, however, it represents an extremely poor prerequisite for any form of historical self-assurance, critical retrospection, or tradition-building. In this way, the stories and experiences of these movements always remain coupled to the individual memories and narratives of the actors involved and sooner or later threaten to disappear.
"When did the first Ladyfest take place in Leipzig, and what kind of workshops and concerts were held there?"
In view of this development, MONAliesA sees the need to document and archive the diverse currents of current women's/queer political movements (if possible from the beginning) as densely and comprehensively as possible. In 2012, therefore, the "foundation stone" was laid for a queer-feminist archive under the umbrella of the women's and gender library MONAliesA. The spatial focus of the collection was initially supposed to be the city of Leipzig; due to the growing response among queer feminist groups from other areas of Germany, we have now largely abandoned this restriction. The main purpose of the archive is to systematically document contemporary queer feminist groups, archive their media and other legacies, and make them available to interested parties.

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Posters, flyers, photos, logs, pictures, fan zines, patches, student work, radio broadcasts, concert recordings, etc. etc. etc.

The holdings of the MONAliesA in Archivportal-D.


MONAliesA – Feministische Bibliothek im Lotta e.V.
– Haus der Demokratie –
Bernhard-Göring-Straße 152
04277 Leipzig
Tel: 0341 – 946 721 29
E-Mail: bibliothek [at]