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Peter Chalk Centre 2.2

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Gendering Violence: Emotions and Militancy in Early Twentieth Century Britain and Ireland

A Centre for the Study of War, State and Society workshop
Date17 September 2018
Time14:00 to 16:00
PlacePeter Chalk Centre 2.2

CSWSS is delighted to welcome Affiliate Fellow of the Centre, Dr Sharon Crozier-de Rosa, to speak to the title 'Gendering Violence: Emotions and Militancy in Early Twentieth Century Britain and Ireland'.

Sharon is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Her research is situated at the intersections between emotions, gender, violent activisms, imperialism, nationalisms, and anti-colonialisms. Her recent publications include Shame and the Anti-Feminist Backlash: Britain, Ireland and Australia, 1890-1920 (Routledge, 2018) and Remembering Women’s Activism, co-authored with Vera Mackie (Routledge, 2018).


In 1914, at the onset of the Great War, English militant suffragists, through the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), abandoned their violent feminist campaign in favour of supporting male militarism. Prior to this decision, British anti-suffragists had watched the actions of the WSPU with a great deal of trepidation. Through exercising militancy, British suffragettes seemed to be guilty of challenging the gendered nature of the emotional rules governing acts of violence. They were trying to affect a transformation of honour codes that declared that the violent sphere was no place for a woman.

It is no wonder anti-suffragists expressed relief at the abandonment of feminist militancy. Across the Irish Sea, Irish militant feminists reacted differently. Members of the Irish Women’s Franchise League (IWFL) expressed bitter disappointment that, while they were continuing the fight, their British counterparts had halted their attack. To them, the decision to abandon militancy revealed that British feminists’ recourse to violent activism was merely a matter of contingency. It was a temporary state of affairs. To Irish feminist nationalists, women’s violent activism represented no such transitory phenomenon. Rather, Irish militant feminists claimed that that they shared a heritage of equality in politics and in arms with Irish men. British colonisation had imposed upon them ‘civilising’ notions of separate spheres which had eroded the Irish woman warrior’s sense of herself.

In this paper, Sharon examines the relationship between feminist militancy, nationalism, and gendered emotional regimes. She asks how far early twentieth century militant women wanted to transform the gendered nature of the emotional codes governing violence.

ProviderCentre for the Study of War, State and Society
Intended audienceAll welcome.
Registration informationNo booking required.
OrganizerDr Gemma Clark

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