KEYNOTE: Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. – Performance Lecture ‘Homing In on the States We Are In’.


We explore the relationship between the ongoing policing of female reproductive autonomy and restrictions placed on women’s civic rights in Ireland. The 1916 Proclamation, influenced by first wave feminists and socialists, asserted that the Irish Republic would grant ‘equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts.’

However, the treatment of women by the postcolonial states has persistently undermined these ideals of equality, pushing women into the mold of Victorian respectability, while subjecting social policy to Catholic teaching in the Republic and to equally fundamentalist Protestantism in Northern Ireland. This led to the containment of women in Magdalen Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes, the practice of symphysiotomy and the limiting women to unpaid duties in the home under the 1937 Irish Constitution. In 1983, in a backlash against second wave feminism, further restrictions were imposed on women’s health and reproductive rights, by giving the state the duty to vindicate the life of every foetus. This last move was in stark contrast to the subsequent 2004 decision to remove the automatic right to citizenship from any child born in the Republic, so imposing a lesser civic status on the children of non-nationals.

Interrogating the connections between the biopolitical controls policing female reproductive autonomy and immigrant communities across the island of Ireland, we lay foundations for ‘home’ as an inclusive and empowering space that embraces choice not containment, diversity not division.

Dates and Location

4pm Friday 7th  October 2016

Outside indoors entrance to Hardiman Library (red-carpeted area and balcony above Library Entrance).

Note: This performance presentation will be chaired by Catherine Connolly TD for Galway West. 


All conference delegates will be given access to this event.

About the artist(s)

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. (Speaking of Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion)

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. is a direct action feminist performance group that challenges the ongoing problem of Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion. We challenge the restrictions placed on abortion services in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and campaign for access to safe, legal and free abortion services globally.


Further and Contact Information

Facebook: Speaking-of-Imelda

Twitter: SpeakofIMELDA

Youtube: Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A.



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