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Heroines, monsters, victims: representations of female agency in political violence and the myth of motherhood

Ahall, Linda Terese (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

By using a poststructuralist feminist perspective, this thesis argues that representations of female agency in political violence are told as stories of heroines, monsters and victims through a Myth of Motherhood. I conceptualise the myth as a meta-discourse constituted by different discourses within each type of story. In all stories, a tension between identities of life-giving and life-taking is present which means that motherhood is ‘everywhere’ albeit not necessarily visible. Thus, these stories are versions, perversions and inversions of motherhood. In heroine stories, this takes place as the subject’s heroism is communicated through motherhood/lack of motherhood. In monster stories, the myth is communicated as ‘natural’ femininity is emphasised and defined as that which the monster is not. In victim stories, female subjects are denied agency which means that a life-taking identity is removed whereas a life-giving identity is promoted communicating the Myth of Motherhood. I argue that motherhood is not simply a discourse denying women agency in political violence, but also instrumental as to how agency in political violence is enabled. As such motherhood is ‘everywhere’ in representations of female agency in political violence and fundamental in order to understand how representations of female agency in political violence are gendered.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Shepherd, Laura and Moore, Cerwyn
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Department of Political Science and International Studies
Subjects:HT Communities. Classes. Races
HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
JA Political science (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1727
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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