Women of Ireland : confronting Eastern and Western perspectives (16-17 June 2011)

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Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3
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If contemporary research on Ireland and its relationship with the world has tended, understandably, to privilege either the United States or Great Britain, the aim of this conference is to move beyond these geographical boundaries and consider Ireland's relationship not just with its British neighbours, but also with Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and to analyse this specifically in relation to women's experiences. Ireland has undergone massive change over the last two decades, the years of economic boom and immigration having recently given way to economic disaster and the introduction of hardline immigration
policies. North of the border, three decades of bloody conflict have been followed by a decade of relative peace, notwithstanding still unresolved important political tensions. It therefore seems appropriate and timely to question how these profound mutations Irish society has undergone have affected women living in Ireland.
This conference proposes to tackle these questions from a number of angles.
How have immigrant women from Eastern Europe in particular benefitted or suffered from Irish asylum laws in recent years? What mutations have come about in the sex trade industry as a result of massive immigration from Eastern European countries? What roles have Irish feminist or women's organisations
played in defending asylum seekers and in attempting to counter human sex trafficking? In the light of figures showing an alarming increase in the number of rapes perpetrated, what evidence is there that these crimes are sometimes racially motivated? In a country which has a strong tradition of travelling people, what sort of welcome has been reserved for Roma women?
Moving further East, what relationship have Irish and Palestinian women nurtured over years of conflict? What comparisons can be established between the experience of women in Ireland, North and South, and those in Palestine and
Israel, particularly women involved in armed conflict and those involved in peace and reconciliation groups? In what ways have these groups of women upset or upheld traditional gender roles in wartime? How have they contributed to the creation of transnational feminist networks?
Closer to home, what sort of networks have been set up to deal with the large numbers of Irish women going to England (or further east) to have abortions which remain illegal in Ireland? How can the lack of success of feminist groups lobbying for the extension of the British 1967 abortion act to the six counties of Northern Ireland be explained? How has the experience of
women emigrating east to Britain changed over the last few decades?

Papers are invited on the above questions and all perspectives are welcome: sociological, historical, political, legal, but also literary and artistic. How have Irish writers and artists, male and female dealt with these issues? What strategies have they deployed to represent women's involvement in armed combat or the sex trade industry? How have they reflected changes in
traditional roles? Joe Cleary's groundbreaking Literature, Partition and the Nation State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine, published in 2002, and his remark that 'there has been little sustained or extended comparative analysis' (3) of literature from partitioned countries, paved the way for further research on this question: how fruitful are comparisons of depictions of women in literature from different conflict zones? In terms of
visual representations, how does the use of feminine symbolism in countries at war (Kosovo, Middle East, Afghanistan and the North of Ireland) vary or differ? From a feminist perspective, how have artists and photographers, from the most renowned to the unknown graffiti artist, tended to endorse or counter stereotypical images of women?

Please send an abstract and short biographical note to Nathalie Sebbane (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3) nathalie.sebbane@gmail.com and
Fiona McCann (Université Charles de Gaulle – Lille 3) mccannfiona@gmail.com
by December 15 2010.