Fidelma Ashe will be speaking at this year’s OUTing the Past Conference as a member of the panel “LGBT+ Experiences with Remediation and Reconciliation”. Fidelma currently works as a Reader in Politics and Member of the Transnational Justice Institute at Ulster University. She specialises in gender, sexuality and conflict transformation.
Sexuality, Gender Identity and Progressive Peacebuilding
Traditionally, sexual and gender minorities have been viewed as identities that have little relevance in terms of understanding political conflict and its transformation. For a feminist researcher working in Northern Ireland who is acutely aware of the connections between the regulation of bodies and constitutions of the nation, the displacement of sexual and gender minorities in studies of peace and conflict is highly problematic. Nationalist narratives of sexuality and gender not only create multiple forms of harm and inequities for sexual and gender minorities; they can preserve both during conflict transformation. A small number of peace agreements have recognised these inequities and have implemented legal and institutional changes to provide protections and redress for harms. These are significant developments and mapping their effects is an important site of inquiry.
However, it is equally important that the inclusion of historically marginalised identities in peacebuilding does not reduce those identities to the status of victims of conflict; a status imposed on women at local and international levels that too often impeded women’s ability to shape peacebuilding in progressive ways. The meaningful inclusion of traditionally marginalised groups in peacebuilding requires participation in shaping the peace. My recent research has exposed how struggles by sexual and gender minorities to shape a peaceful society in Northern Ireland represent a radical impulse for deepening peacebuilding that challenges nationalism’s historical hierarchies of identity and their attendant inequities. My presentation discusses these counter-hegemonic visions of peace.