Women’s History Association of Ireland -Annual Conference

Women’s History Association of Ireland -Annual Conference
25-26 May 2012
Mater Dei Institute of Education (a college of Dublin City University)

The WHAI invites paper proposals for the 2012 annual conference that
will address aspects of women’s live and activism in the years
immediately before 1913. As has been noted the success of republican
nationalism after 1916 has obscured the reality of the aspirations and
experiences of constitutional nationalists in the early twentieth
century. Yet for constitutional nationalists 1912 appeared to be the
year in which expectations for a new Home Third Home Rule Bill would
be realized.  Literature such as Paeseta’s, Before the Revolution, has
focused on the outlook, identities and aspirations of the male
nationalist elite-in-waiting. This conference will provide an
opportunity to explore the identities of Irish women who supported in
various ways and hoped to benefit from the Home Rule solution to
Ireland’s national question. Indeed, the Irish Women’s Franchise
League turned to militancy in 1912 because of the refusal of Redmond
to allow women to attend the National Convention in support of the
Bill in April of that year. Suffrage women wanted votes for women to
be included in the third Home Rule Bill. The period also saw a strong
anti-suffrage lobby in Ireland, spearheaded by women, and the
conference welcomes papers on this subject.

1912 was also, however, a year which saw perceived and real challenges
to the success of the Home Rule campaign. While the militancy and
demands of the IWFL, in the wider context of the mass WSPU
demonstrations in England, was seen to have the potential to derail
the Liberal/IPP alliance by forcing a general election on the issue of
women’s suffrage, a more serious threat was emerging in the north of
Ireland. 1912 saw the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant
by which Ulster Unionists pledged to go to arms to resist the
imposition of Home Rule; the UWUC signed a separate women’s covenant.

1912 was also the year of the establishment of the Labour Party and
the role of women in labour activism prior to the 1913 strike deserves
greater attention. For many Irish women, of course, the activist
causes had little or no resonance or impact and in the spirit of a
holistic investigation of female lives before the revolution papers
are encouraged that address the ‘day-to-day’ concerns of Irish women,
an area that has been hugely aided by the launch of the 1901 and 1911
Irish census online.

The conference themes might include, but are not limited to the following:

• Women in the Home Rule campaign
• Suffrage and anti suffrage campaigns and intersections with the Home
Rule debate
• Women and unionism
• Labour and trade union activism
• The United Irishwomen
• Papers on the family, fashion, work inside and outside the home,
women and popular culture, female sport and leisure activities,
participation in the organisations of the cultural revival.

Paper proposals should be 500 words and be sent by 15 March to Dr
Leeann Lane and Dr Mary McAuliffe at whai@materdei.ie

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