UCL Institute of the Americas


Frankie Chappell

Autonomy and Solidarity: The Intellectual and Activist World of Black Women for Wages for Housework, 1970s-2000s


Dr Kate Quinn and Professor Jonathan Bell

My doctoral research engages with the global activity of Black Women for Wages for Housework (BWWFH), an autonomous group within the international Wages for Housework network. Active in the US, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the UK and elsewhere, BWWFH makes for a fascinating case study of transnational women of colour’s activism and coalitional organising and yet has largely been excluded from extant scholarship on the twentieth-century women’s movement. In concert with the core campaign demand of wages for housework, the members of BWWFH engaged with issues as broad as reproductive justice, queer women’s rights, sex workers’ rights, wrongful convictions in the Black community and immigration.

Through an engagement with under-utilised published and archival sources, alongside oral histories, my thesis will seek to understand the history of BWWFH, its origins, influences and impact. I will consider what BWWFH’s history reveals about shifting conceptions of women’s relationship to labour and domesticity; the role of race within the women’s movement; and how women organised transnationally and across identities. I hope to produce a history of the group and its intellectual and activist context which adds nuance to our understanding of women’s organising in the twentieth century and has relevance for social movements going forward.

Awards | Grants | Scholarships | Funding

  • My doctoral research is funded by a Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities.
  • My MSc studies were supported by grants from the Black Heart Foundation and the Sidney Perry Foundation.

Conference presentations and talks

  • ‘“Pay Women Not the Military”: Black Women and Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp’, Ain’t I a Woman?: The “Black Woman” in Historical and Contemporary Context, Goldsmiths University of London (27 October 2021)
  • ‘“There has always been a Black women’s peace movement”: Women of Colour and Anti-War Activism,’ Studying Herstories, Women’s History Network (8 March 2021)
  • ‘A Hidden History: African Women and the British Health Service 1930-2000’ (on behalf of the Young Historians Project), What’s Happening in Black British History XI, Institute of Historical Research/Institute of Commonwealth Studies/School of Advance Study (14 November 2019)