Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Women's Studies

Major Professor

Sara Crawley, Ph.D.

Keywords

Feminism, Queer theory, IRA, Colonialism, Radical political movements

Abstract

With this thesis, I will utilize both feminist and queer theory to highlight the gendered and bodily tactics used by the women of the 1970s/1980s Provisional Irish Republican Army. I will explore how women can both manipulate gender and use their bodies as a response to gender, ethnic, class, and colonial power relations and conflict discourses, the limitations of these approaches, and how these actions can work to reconfigure political movements, local cultures, and create a space for social change and a future beyond conflict which includes women. My methods will include a feminist content analysis of interviews, written records, narrative/visual texts, material culture, and social interactions. These narratives will relate to the Irish Troubles, violence, nationalism, colonialism, militarization, and subjectivity, with a focus on gender. Following a theoretical approach, I first will provide an historical perspective on the Irish Troubles. I then will discuss those women who joined the ranks of the Provisionals, the discourses surrounding their political action, as well as their manipulation of gender constructions. I also will provide the reader with an historical examination of feminine national images such as Mother-Ireland to which many women found themselves accountable. I also will examine the effects of surveillance and gendered punishment on Republican women, particularly when imprisoned and under the guard of British men and women, as well as the agency asserted by these Republican women. Lastly, I discuss the ways in which constructions of conflict and peace become inscribed with notions of gender, as well as value of Republican women's lives and actions in the development of viable feminist theories, practices, and movements.

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