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Women Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland

When: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 11:15 am to 12:45 pm
Where: Wellesley College • 106 Central St • Multifaith Center, Ground Level, Houghton Chapel • Wellesley

Sandra McEvoy, Boston Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights

Women Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland: Gender, Resistance and The Barricades


While a significant amount of research has been conducted on the religious, political, socio-cultural, and ethnic facets of the Northern Irish conflict, current research does not address Protestant women’s participation in armed political violence. Long believed to be a male preserve, Loyalist paramilitary organizations (LPOs) do in fact have a history of women’s participation - both as supporters as well as sworn volunteers. Through archival research and interviews with members of LPOs, McEvoy will discuss the multiple ways in which failing to consider gender in the conflict in Northern Ireland serves not only as a barrier to fully understanding the conflict but practically barricades our thinking about innovative strategies to resolving conflict. The paper will document two key findings, 1) the various ways in which women themselves conceive of their participation and 2), how this participation refutes traditional notions of (liberatory) politics in the region as being solely a male preserve. Questions explored in the talk include: In what was does a gendered analysis of conflict help us understand conflict in unique ways? Can women’s participation in and support of conflict lend unique insight to conflict resolution strategies? What are the implications for feminism to conceive of women’s participation in LPOs as a form of political liberation? How can an investigation of this type of women’s participation lead practioners and scholars to new ways of understanding the complicated nexus of religion, nationality, class, citizenship and culture in Northern Ireland?

One of a series on Gender, Peace and Justice.

Sponsored by Peace & Justice Studies, the Director of Multicultural Programs, Women's and Gender Studies, Economics, Environmental Studies, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Boston Branch

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