We are the DDB: MONAliesA - Feminist Library and Archive

By Tordis Trull (MONAliesA - Feminist Library and Archive)

MONAliesA was founded in the years of the upheaval 1989/90 in Leipzig. Since then it has been used as a library, meeting place, archive and venue for literary and political education and exchange, especially by women, lesbians and transpersons of different generations.

The MONAliesA houses over 30,000 books, films, an extensive (historical) magazine collection and other media that are available as reference material and for loan to the general public. We possess a unique collection of published and unpublished testimonies of the women's movement in East Germany, the women's history of the GDR and the transition period, as well as documents of recent feminist history. In addition, the collection offers various media that is particularly relevant to women, lesbians, transpersons and girls – for example, from the areas of sexuality, abuse and trauma, work and unemployment, feminist theory. Guides, fiction, textbooks, 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 being actively used for scientific purposes, namely both secondary literature and increasingly the sources in the archive. Every year we organize about 20-30 events in different formats: lectures, workshops, excursions, exhibitions, readings and reading circles.

Innenansicht Bibliothek MONAliesA / © MONAliesA
Interior view library MONAliesA / © MONAliesA

Our archive materials and unpublished printed works (Grey Literature) on the women's movement in the GDR and the years after 1989/90 as well as the “queer-feminist archive” are particularly important in the new Länder, where the upheaval in 1989/90 also led to breaks in the memory of the autonomous women's movement and, in addition, the life realities of women changed so much that younger generations do not immediately inherit the experiences of the older ones. This history is systematically preserved and made accessible at the MONAliesA, including digitally via the "Digitale Deutsche Frauenarchiv (Digital German Women's Archive)" (DDF) and the meta catalogue of the i.d.a. umbrella organisation. In interview projects, we also generate new contemporary historical sources from the 1980s and 1990s in Leipzig (e.g. project “Fights of the oppositional women's movement of the GDR during the period of upheaval 89/90”).

Through our focus on GDR female writers and the women's movement in the GDR/the period of upheaval 1989/90, we want to build on local cultural and artistic traditions, remember them, develop them further and attract a diverse audience. We are dedicated to the maintenance of literary genres (e.g. protocol literature) and specific artistic concepts that emerged during this time.

Leipzig has not only a feminist past, but also a feminist and queer-feminist present. In addition to the now established women's associations, there are groups and associations in this city that, far from the “bourgeois mainstream”, usually deal critically with the existing gender roles and relationships by means of pop-cultural forms of expression (festivals, magazines, posters, radio broadcasts, etc.). As a rule, they work according to the principle of "do-it-yourself", which also means that they rarely form solid structures that go beyond the specific occasion and reinvent themselves again and again. On the one hand, this mode gives the subculture a certain dynamic and flexibility. On the other hand, however, it represents a very bad prerequisite for any form of historical self-assurance, critical retrospection or the formation of traditions. In this way, the stories and experiences of these movements always remain linked to the individual memories and narratives of the actors involved and threaten to disappear sooner or later.

MONAliesA History: Protests to Preserve the MONAliesA 1997", MONAliesA Feminist Library (Rights Reserved - Free Access)

"When did the first Ladyfest take place in Leipzig and what kind of workshops and concerts were there?"

In view of this development, MONAliesA sees the need to document and archive as closely and comprehensively as possible the diverse currents of current women's/queer political movements (if possible from the outset). In 2012, the “foundation stone” for a queer-feminist archive was therefore laid under the umbrella of the Women's and Gender Library MONAliesA. The spatial focus of the collection should initially be the city of Leipzig; due to the growing resonance among queer feminist groups from other areas of Germany, we have now largely abandoned this restriction. The main objective of the archive is the systematic documentation of contemporary queer-feminist groups, the archiving of their media and other legacies as well as their provision to interested parties.

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We collect:
 posters, flyers, photos, logs, pictures, fan zines, patches, student works, radio broadcasts, concert recordings, etc., etc., etc.

Overview of MONAliesA's holdings in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library)