Ex-combatants, Gender and Peace in Northern Ireland: Women, Political Protest and the Prison Experience

28 February 2018
Public event:
4.00PM - 6.00PM
Booking required:
T1.10, The Curve
Contact information

Name: Deborah Clift
T: 01642 738665

Abstract - During the Conflict in Northern Ireland, the criminal justice system played a central and visible role in containing, managing and repressing social disorder and, hence, became associated indelibly with issues of the State.

Although much has been written about the recent political struggles in Northern Ireland, too often it has been women’s experiences which have been silenced and under explored. This lecture will chart the contours of women’s experiences of imprisonment by contextualising the history of Armagh Prison and the central role it played during the Conflict in Northern Ireland.

This paper is based on the testimonies of former female ex-combatants of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

It will examine key moments in the history of the imprisonment of the Armagh women (such as the No Wash Protest and strip searching).

By using these examples I will examine how subjectivity, gender, the corporeal body and resistance were articulated in situations of heightened political violence. The impact of the Conflict opened spaces for women to place traditional constructions of femininity in dissent. The narratives of the ex-combatants will illustrate how violence became institutionalised and operated ‘through strategies about which people seldom talk: namely the mechanisms of fear’ (Poulantzas 1978:83).

Presenter - Professor Azrini Wahidin (BA (Hons), MA, PGCE, PhD, FLF, SFHEA, FAcSS) Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law.

Dr Wahidin researches on the issues of imprisonment, youth justice, violence against women, women in the criminal justice system, transitions out of custody, the criminalisation of migrants, the engendering of punishment and the experiences of elders in prison in the UK and USA. Her previous work focused on older women in prison, managing the needs of elders in prison, the meaning of death and dying for prisoners, youth justice, older LGBT persons, resettlement, the body and dirt. Azrini has a wide range of interests in the links between criminal justice and social justice, looking at race, sexuality, gender and social exclusion. She also has a strong interest in research methodologies and research ethics.

She has been awarded in excess of £1 million pounds in research grants. She has carried out research for the Ministry of Justice, Home Office, Youth Justice Board, Bureau of Justice, Youth Justice Agency of Northern Ireland, ESRC, BA, HM Prison Service, NOMS, and a range of voluntary organisations. She sits on various editorial boards and has edited a number of special editions. She was a trustee for the Howard League for Penal Reform, The Irish Penal Reform Trust and is on the Executive of the British Society of Criminology. She is currently Chair of the British Society of Criminology Ethics Committee.

In 2012, she was awarded a visiting international scholarship at Melbourne University in the School of Political and Social Sciences and is a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya. She has been the external examiner for criminology programmes at the University of Stirling and Portsmouth University. She is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College. She is currently working with Dr Linda Moore and Professor Phil Scraton on an edited book entitled: Women’s Imprisonment, Decarceration and the Case for Abolition: Critical reflections on Corston. Routledge.

She established the first undergraduate criminology programme at Kent University and at Queen’s University was Head of Criminology, providing academic leadership, strategic and operational management. Whilst at Queen’s, she was a member of the Senior Management Team, elected member to Academic Council and Senate and instrumental in the role out of Athena Swan in the Arts and Humanities. Azrini in her role as Research Chair at Nottingham Trent University and as Acting Head of Sociology, improved research income, research outputs and impact and helped drive the successful integration of different disciplines into one Department. She led on the teaching and research work of colleagues in sociology, criminology, public health, youth studies and youth justice. She provided academic leadership, strategic and operational management. She was a member of the Athena SWAN University wide team and the International and Strategic lead for the Department of Sociology.

Author of a range of academic articles in international journals and edited collections. Her latest book; Ex-Combatants, Gender and Peace in Northern Ireland - Women, Political Protest and the Prison Experience, (Palgrave Press) focused on female former politically motivated prisoners and the role of transitional justice in post-conflict societies. She has recently published an edited collection with Professor Malcolm Cowburn and Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe entitled: Research Ethics in Criminology - Dilemmas, Issues and Solutions (Routledge).

A selection of her other books include: Older Women in the Criminal Justice System: Running out of Time (Jessica Kingsley); Criminology (ed) (Professor Hale, Professor Hayward and Dr Emma Wincup), Ageing, Crime and Society (ed) (Professor Maureen Cain),); Understanding Prison Staff (ed) (Dr Bennett and Dr Crewe) and Criminal Justice (ed) (Professor Hucklesby). She has edited special editions and published numerous articles.

Share |