Bridge-builder feminism: the feminist movement and conflict in Northern Ireland

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O'Keefe, Theresa
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Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group
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While gender has been widely used as an analytical category to understand the dynamics of conflict transformation in Northern Ireland, surprisingly little has been written on the ways in which the conflict has shaped or constrained feminist organising. Singular focus on groups or initiatives like the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, Peace People or the Women's Support Network has overshadowed the contested history and intricacies of the wider feminist movement. Adopting a more holistic view, this article takes the concept of ‘bridge-builders' as conceptualised by Ruane and Todd in The Dynamics of Conflict in Northern Ireland (1996) to examine the fractured development of the feminist movement in the North. It charts how ‘bridge-builder feminism' became a distinguishable feature of the feminist movement during the Troubles and was used as a mechanism to transgress what Todd calls the ‘grammars of nationality’ (Todd, 2015). I argue that although this organising approach pioneered some changes in Northern Irish society, it overlooked key feminist struggles and thrived at the expense of an inclusive, intersectional feminism. Though the movement has undergone significant changes in the last two decades, the legacy of bridge-builder feminism continues to impact the capacities of the movement to address key feminist issues.
Feminism , Social movements , Ethno-national identity , Peace , Northern Ireland
O'Keefe, T. (2021) 'Bridge-builder feminism: the feminist movement and conflict in Northern Ireland', Irish Political Studies, 36(1), pp. 52-71. doi: 10.1080/07907184.2021.1877898
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