The annual conference of the Women’s History Association of Ireland is one of the highlights of the history conference calendar.
Because of the covid crisis the 2020 conference had to be postponed, but conference organisers Dr Mary McAuliffe and Dr Fionnuala Walsh took the decision to move to a novel online conference format with the programme spread over four Fridays in March 2021. This decision was vindicated by the large attendance at the conference with more than 1000 attendees over the four days.
The conference was titled “Besieged bodies: Gendered violence, sexualities and motherhood”. It showcased innovative new research by fifty scholars from Ireland and abroad in fields of women’s history and gender history. The conference themes included pregnancy, maternity care, and motherhood; birth control and abortion; sexual and gendered violence; LGBT histories; and institutionalism and trauma.
The papers spanned across time and place, exploring these issues from medieval to the contemporary period and including comparative perspectives from the United States, China and continental Europe. The conference demonstrated the strength and breadth of women’s history and gender history in Ireland and, indeed, elsewhere.
The WHAI annual conference was supported by the UCD Decade of Centenaries Fund, the UCD School of History, the UCD School of Gender Studies, UCD Centre for Gender, Feminisms and Sexualities (CGFS), and the UCD College of Arts and Humanities Fund.
How to watch the keynotes and listen to the podcasts
The videos of three keynotes speakers are now available to watch on History Hub’s Youtube channel. Podcasts of the three keynotes and nine papers from the Decade of Centenaries panels are also now available in a number of ways.
The keynotes recorded were:
Mutilation as Gendered Punishment: State Violence and Sexual Transgression in Medieval Europe by Professor Ruth Karras (Trinity College Dublin).
Political Investigations, Legal Archives and Women’s Testimonies of Sexual Violence by Prof. Jane Ohlmeyer (Trinity College Dublin) with Prof. Rosemary Byrne (NYU Abu Dhabi) and Prof. Stephanie McCurry (Columbia University).
Antigone’s Daughters: Gender, Reproduction and the Irish State by Dr Sinead Kennedy (Maynooth University).
Because of the generous support from UCD Decade of Centenaries fund, there are also nine Decade of Centenaries papers from three separate conference panels available to podcast.
Susie Deedigan (QUB) – ‘It is to be assumed that members of C. na m Ban cannot be kept out of such a body!’: republican women and prisoner support organisations, 1939-45.
Dr Dieter Reinisch (NUIG) – ‘The Irish republican movement in abeyance: Ideological and organization continuities of dissident republican women, 1986-2021’
Charlotte Aslesen (Oslo) – I suffered indescribable pain’: The emotional impact of hunger striking and forcible feeding on male Republicans, 1916-1921.
Dr Elaine Callinan (Carlow College) – The best feminist propaganda that is being done is being done by the mere fact of voting…’: Propaganda and women in elections from 1918 to 1920.
Dr Liz Kyte (UCC) – ‘‘Radicalised Bodies’: Irish Socialist Feminists and Anti-Militarism, 1913-1923.’
Dr Gerri O’Neill (DCU) – ‘Sex for Secrets? The IRA’s ‘honey-trap’ operation, 1920-21′.
Susan Byrne (TCD) – ‘Keeping company with the enemy: Gender and sexual violence during the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War (1919-1923).
Dr Leeann Lane (DCU) – ”War on women’: violence and the female Civil War prison’.
Dr Mary McAuliffe (UCD). ‘The Dublin Brigade in Kerry, 1923: gendered militancy and violence against women during the Civil War’.
About the WHAI
The aim of the WHAI is to promote research into the history of women in Ireland, to bring together scholars in Irish women’s history, to recognise excellence in research and to promote public engagement with women’s history in an Irish context.
For more information, including on how to get involved with the association, go to womenshistoryassociation.com