A Gender-Balanced Approach to Transforming Cultures of Militarism in Northern Ireland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The dominant interpretation of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland is that it has been an ethno-national conflict (McGarry and O’Leary, 1995). Scholars and activists alike have used the language of ‘community’, ‘identity’, and ‘culture’ when analysing how ethnicity and political allegiance have combined to polarize people into competing blocs of Catholic-nationalist-republican (CNR) and Protestant-unionist-loyalist (PUL). Others, like Ruane and Todd, have posited a multi-dimensional theory of the conflict that identifies a set of overlapping differences, including religion, ethnicity, colonial status, culture, and national allegiance, all embodied in habitus (Ruane and Todd, 1996). But surprisingly little reflection has been devoted to militarized aspects of community, identity and culture, especially from a feminist perspective. This chapter argues that three distinct ‘cultures of militarism’ continue to contribute to division and conflict: republican, loyalist and British Armed Forces cultures of militarism. It also asks whether a ‘gender-balanced’ approach is possible in the context of cultures of militarism, which are overwhelmingly patriarchal. Long-standing imbalances of power between women and men continue to be the norm within these cultures, so the inclusion of women’s perspectives runs the risk of tokenism. For the transformation of cultures of militarism to take place, the inclusion of women’s perspectives also must be accompanied by changes in power relationships between women and men. Fully integrating feminist perspectives on power is a necessary component in working towards their transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Legacy of the Good Friday Agreement
Subtitle of host publicationNorthern Irish Politics, Culture and Art after 1998
EditorsCharles I. Armstrong, David Herbert, Jan Erik Mustad
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages152
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameCompromise after Conflict
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • militarism
  • militarisation
  • ex-combatants
  • Northern Ireland
  • conflict
  • conflict transformation
  • gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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