Homing in on the states we are in
in Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries
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This chapter analyses a performance lecture, Terminal, given during the conference 1916: Home: 2016 by Speaking of IMELDA. A multi-generational group of London-based Irish feminists, Speaking of IMELDA (2014-2018) used performance, film, and media interventions at public events to campaign for repeal of the 8th Amendment while building on solidarities between abortion seekers travelling to the UK and the Irish diaspora. Terminal explored the histories of coercive control over women’s bodies in Ireland, centring on tensions between the ideals in the 1916 Proclamation and women’s lived experiences during the century after 1916. Members discuss how Terminal grew out of Speaking of IMELDA’s public interventions in Irish abortion discourses. In Terminal, many members recognised the performance as an act of research, probing deep connections between the 8th Amendment and how women’s rights have been policed in Ireland through contraception, incarceration, and religious social control. Re-enacting these astonishing female experiences welded the immediacy of IMELDA’s direct actions to a new method of reperforming trauma and its effects, to understand more nuanced connections between past and present. This account from IMELDAs involved in devising and staging Terminal reflects on wider roles they enacted while building upon multiple backgrounds, perspectives, and understanding of those herstories.

Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries

Commemoration, gender, and the postcolonial carceral state

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