The Women of the Troubles: Presence and Absence in Public Memory
University of Brighton
This thesis will investigate the presence and absence of women within public memory and narrative in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. To do this, the thesis will provide an examination into public exhibitions, programmes and heritage sites to determine how female participation in, and perspectives of, ‘The Troubles’ have been historically interpreted and presented within the museum and heritage sector. Utilising oral history projects and conflict archives, such as the Prisons Memory Archive and Accounts of the Conflict, this thesis will first establish the varied roles of women during this conflict and how the conflict impacted their lives. These projects contain a vast range of different experiences from women actively participating in the conflict, women who consider themselves witnesses or victims of the conflict and women who were affected by the conflict in their everyday lives. Once this has been established, the thesis will analyse issues of collective narrative and public memory concerning the presence and absence of women of ‘The Troubles’ through exhibitions, programmes and other forms of potential outreach. The thesis will examine both how oral history has been utilised and the potential of how it can be utilised within exhibitions, heritage sites and/or sites of memory. This will include a focus onto Ulster Museum, Museum of Free Derry, Belfast Exposed and Armagh Gaol.Building upon my research and work for my MA thesis concerning women of the Irish revolutionary period, I believe an analysis into the role, acknowledgement and remembrance of the women of ‘The Troubles’ is essential to develop a nuanced and richer narrative of the conflict. Arguably, women are often the last to be commemorated or acknowledged within public memory. An analysis into the political motivation and reasoning behind this has potential to uncover a deeper understanding of not only history but current sociological and political climates.