Producing ‘decent girls’: governmentality and the moral geographies of sexual conduct in Ireland (1922–1937)

Crowley, Una and Kitchin, Rob (2008) Producing ‘decent girls’: governmentality and the moral geographies of sexual conduct in Ireland (1922–1937). Gender, Place and Culture, 15 (4). pp. 355-372. ISSN 0966-369X

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In this article we examine the mode of governmentality constructed in Ireland with regard to the regulation and disciplining of sexuality in the post-independence era up to the writing of the Constitution (1922–1937). Drawing on the writings of Michel Foucault, we document how Ireland became an intense site of applied, national bio-politics with a panoply of government commissions and legislation, accompanied by new sites of reform (Magdalene Asylums and Mother andBabyHomes), which togetherwere designed tomould and police the sexual practices of its citizens and create a sanitised moral landscape.Whilst a thoroughly gendered project, with nearly all legislation and sites of reform targeting women, we contend it was also a highly spatialised endeavour. The modes and practices of governmentality produced a dense spatialised grid of discipline, reform and self-regulation, seeking to produce ‘decent’ women inhabiting virtuous spaces by limiting access to work and public spaces, confining women to an unsullied (marital) home, and threatening new sites of reformation, emigration or ostracisation.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: governmentality; bio-politics; sexuality; places of formation;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > National Institute for Regional and Spatial analysis, NIRSA
Item ID: 3072
Identification Number: 10.1080/09663690802155553
Depositing User: Dr. Una Crowley
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2012 17:38
Journal or Publication Title: Gender, Place and Culture
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Refereed: Yes

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