Why “Northern/Irish”?

Names are odd things. At our first workshop, Rosemary Hunter (Australian) and Clare McGlynn (Scottish) were surprised to hear us call the Feminist Judgments Project they had run with Erika Rackley (English) and a collective of other scholars from a variety of jurisdictions  (including Ireland and Northern Ireland) the “English Feminist Judgments Project”. Was it “English” because the judgments it considered were primarily English? Was it English by contrast to Irishness?

Most likely, a lot of people will call this the “Irish Feminist Judgments Project”. But we have chosen a different official name – possibly one that is easier written than said – for three reasons:

  •  Ireland and Northern Ireland are separate legal jurisdictions, and this project will re-write judgments from both. In fact, the Project is more unusual than you might expect in considering the laws of both jurisdictions. Doing so will present definite legal challenges, which cannot simply be collapsed into one overarching or shared set of rules. It will also gesture back to a long-standing tradition of collaboration between feminists on both sides of the border.
  • “Irish and Northern Irish” is a mouthful, but it also suggests a separation that does not reflect the lived history of the jurisdictions. In our project we want to create space to explore the ways in which they have affected, and defined themselves in relation to one another over time, and to consider the commonalities of women’s experiences before and between the laws of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • We could represent these tensions in many ways, but the title we’ve chosen seems a good fit. If the solidus/slash in our title keeps us in mind of the contested relationship between the two jurisdictions, then so much the better. It is less a border than a set of adjacent possibilities – an “either/or”.

Twitter and email usernames don’t facilitate that sort of nuance, but the Project’s official title does. (And having names for official use, and names for when nuance isn’t necessary, is a firm tradition in both jurisdictions.)

We welcome further comments.

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