Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Linda Grimm
Lynn Fisher


Irish, Women, Abortion, Maternal, Family, Ireland, Mother, Identity


In this paper, I examine the relationship between women and the Irish state, particularly how the nationalist state has defined and controlled women through their reproductive capabilities. I outline the factors that have contributed to the construction of women's identity and how women have resisted the limitations of this construction in a variety of ways. The issue of abortion is an excellent point on which to base the discussion of women in Ireland because of it extraordinary impact on Irish society. To outline the methodology of this examination, this thesis is theoretically grounded in feminist anthropology, in which the category 'woman' is defined as culturally constructed rather than biologically based. I focus on general theories concerning women in states with an emphasis on the state control of women's reproductive capabilities. The argument functions from the understanding that women are social actors and express various types of power within society, particularly that areas of women's resistance to state control of their reproduction are dynamic expressions of women's voices. I apply these theories to the women in Ireland as an anthropological case study and in the process examine the usefulness of relying on general theories in illuminating specific cases of anthropological research.

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