Commemoration, gender, and the postcolonial carceral state
in Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries
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Recently, Ireland has begun to face up to the legacy of abuse in Irish residential institutions during the twentieth century. State and church agencies are reluctant to acknowledge their roles in this, meaning delay and denial; but political and social remorse has been expressed to survivors of abuse in Industrial Schools, Magdalen Laundries and Mother and Child Institutions. We can gain an understanding of how the Magdalen Laundries and other institutions operated, and have been investigated and remembered, by analysing the deep relationality of these institutions and social attitudes. Its inclusiveness is mirrored by contributors’ mobilisation of approaches from psychology and history to close readings of political, artistic, and oral texts, to accounts of performances and autobiographical narrative. This work draws attention to how agile critics must be in approaching such a complicated, occluded history. Finally, it shows that many of these attitudes continue through the Direct Provision system for refugees and asylum seekers, so though much has been done to remember and recover Ireland’s institutional past, this issue has not been resolved. ‘Legacies’ is an elastic term, acknowledging the ways that traces of these institutions continue to mark Irish society, not least through the unmet need for restorative justice.

Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries

Commemoration, gender, and the postcolonial carceral state


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