WHAI Conference 2020/2021 Report

In 2021 the WHAI explored new ways of holding its annual conference and of reaching its members in Ireland and abroad. The WHAI conference was scheduled to be held in UCD in May 2020 but because of the Covid crisis, it had to be postponed to 2021. The conference organisers Dr Mary McAuliffe (UCD Gender Studies) and Dr Fionnuala Walsh (UCD History) took the decision to move to a novel online conference format with the programme spread over four Fridays in March 2021. This decision was vindicated by the large attendance at the conference with more than 1000 attendees over the four days.

The conference was titled “Besieged bodies: Gendered violence, sexualities and motherhood”. It showcased innovative new research by fifty scholars from Ireland and abroad in fields of women’s history and gender history. The conference themes included pregnancy, maternity care, and motherhood; birth control and abortion; sexual and gendered violence; LGBT histories; and institutionalism and trauma. 

The papers spanned across time and place, exploring these issues from medieval to the contemporary period and including comparative perspectives from the United States, China and continental Europe. The conference demonstrated the strength and breadth of women’s history and gender history in Ireland and, indeed, elsewhere. 

The WHAI annual conference was supported by the UCD Decade of Centenaries Fund, the UCD School of History, the UCD School of Gender Studies, and UCD Centre for Gender, Feminisms and Sexualities (CGFS). 

We were delighted to partner with Michael Liffey of History Hub in the production of videos and podcasts from the conference. These are now available on Soundcloud, Apple, Spotify and YouTube.