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Republican Feminism(s): Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Feminist Writing and Testimonies from the North of Ireland, 1975 – 1986.

Walsh, A (2020) Republican Feminism(s): Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Feminist Writing and Testimonies from the North of Ireland, 1975 – 1986. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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This thesis is an examination of feminist republicanism(s) in the north of Ireland between 1975 – 1986. This era is chosen as republican prison protest was rife, and due to this, fractures between the feminist and republican movements were opened. The aims of both republicanism and feminism overlap in their objective of self-determination. Despite these similarities, the two movements did not come to a natural nor total congruence. While it has been argued that there is a disjuncture between feminism and nationalism, this thesis argues for a new consideration of feminist republicanism(s) in the north. A niche collective of republican feminists developed during this time period and sought bodily, political and economic autonomy. In this thesis I map these aims onto historical narratives, jail-writings, journalism, documentary film and literary arts. The body of the thesis is divided into three sections: the representation of republican women within the history of the republican movement, with a particular focus on the prison protests held within Armagh Gaol; an examination of republican feminism within feminist periodicals such as Women’s News, Socialist Women’s Group, Belfast Women’s Collective, and Women Against Imperialism; and an interrogation of the representation of republican women in literary arts, including the works of Mary Beckett, Medbh McGuckian, Deirdre Madden, Brenda Murphy, and documentary films, Mother Ireland and A Kind of Sisterhood. The key aims of my research are: to assess the intersections of republicanism and feminism within cultural history and literature; to examine disparate strands of republican feminism(s) during the period; and how forms of literature can serve to reassess the interactions and intersections between the two movements. This thesis meets the original contribution to knowledge through the study of archival material received from Margaret Ward. This includes letters and ephemera which offers insight into the interactions between republicanism and feminism within activist journalism in Section Two of the thesis. To this end, my PhD explores a movement of women’s writing concerned with political crisis, gender and the nation during the ‘Troubles’ conflict. I use the plural republicanism(s) as a way of encapsulating the variant iterations of nationalist feminism, from militant republicanism in Armagh Gaol to a passive non-violent literary nationalist feminism. To do this, the thesis has drawn on the works of Theresa O’Keefe, Begoña Aretxaga, Fiona McCann and Claire Hackett. This thesis also has an anti-imperialist feminist approach, which draws upon the work of feminist theorists bell hooks, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Nira Yuval-Davis. The PhD uses testimony as a tool of disruption and resistance against the exclusion from masculine-dominant historical narratives. This thesis draws parallels in literature, print and history between nationalism and feminism, and in drawing these comparisons I argue that women voicing their own history acts as a remedy to dominant patriarchal narratives which silence women. This examination of the interaction between nationalism and gender shows how women’s writing offers a paradigm shift in nationalist history as seen through a feminist lens.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: nationalism; republicanism; gender; feminism; revolution; self-determination; autonomy; activism; literature; cultural history
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2020 09:45
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 15:53
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00013875
Supervisors: O Donghaile, D and O'Brien, G
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13875
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