Corey Wrenn's Reviews > Irish Women and Street Politics, 1956-1973: 'This Could Be Contagious'

Irish Women and Street Politics, 1956-1973 by Tara Keenan-Thomson
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Jul 26, 2016

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This is an extremely thorough look into social movements in Ireland over the mid-century using content analysis of historical records and interviews. While this focuses on women's efforts, it speaks to collective action in general (housing discrimination, IRA/unionism, and civil rights in addition to feminism) instead of quartering off women as a secondary interest. Women, in fact, were integral to social change in Ireland, despite their lowered status and the cult of motherhood that squarely pinned women in the domestic space. It documents a series of important events and a timeline of Irish protest while also identifying important gender themes that may otherwise have gone unseen. For instance, the author makes the case that the British government's gendered attack on Northern Ireland (which initially ignored women as potential activists and shot and interred only men) actually fostered women's strength. Sexism allowed women to participate with much more freedom, but the attacks on men emptied communities and created a vacuum for women to fully enter the IRA (an organization that otherwise ignored feminism and relegated women to a less powerful auxiliary group). While the research here is excellent and informative, I rated it lower because it was honestly a dense read and oftentimes confusing for a non-Irish reader exposed to dozens upon dozens of names and organizations. I selected this book as a consideration for an undergraduate class I am teaching, but decided it was inappropriate and better suited to graduate students and researchers.
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Reading Progress

July 26, 2016 – Started Reading
July 26, 2016 – Shelved
August 25, 2016 – Finished Reading

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