'Doing your time right' : the punishment and resistance of women political prisoners in Northern Ireland, 1972-1995
The thesis is a case study in prison resistance. It examines the imprisonment and penal treatment of women who were confined for politically motivated offences in Northern Ireland between 1972 and 1995. It comprises an historical account of the main events in the women's prisons during the period, and establishes links between successive phases in the administration of political imprisonment and qualitative shifts in the character of prison regimes. The account also links the various punitive, administrative and gendered regulatory responses by the prison authorities to different strategies of collective organisation and resistance by women political prisoners. In modelling the cycle of punishment and resistance in terms of a dialectic of prison conflict, the thesis also argues that this relationship was grounded in prison regimes that combined both politicised and gendered correctional influences. The theoretical basis of the thesis comes from the Foucauldian formulation that structures of power or authority produce the conditions by which they are resisted. However, the thesis also engages feminist analyses in order to explain how `general' penal procedures take on different forms and meanings according to the disciplinary population upon whom they are practiced. This supports the argument that, just as prison punishment acquires specific forms when applied to different prisoner populations, punishment also forms the context in which prison resistance materialises. The practical and empirical basis of the thesis is grounded in the oral narratives of women former political prisoners, staff, and other relevant participants and observers.