Dr Edwin Coomasaru - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Dr Edwin Coomasaru

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Dr Edwin Coomasaru

Associate Lecturer; Sackler Postdoctoral Fellow 2018-19; PhD 2014-18

Edwin Coomasaru is a historian of modern and contemporary art. Currently a Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre, he is researching a project on ‘Masculinity and Apocalypticism in British Art, 1968-2020’. He was awarded his PhD on gender, sexuality and the legacy of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ (1968-98) in visual culture from The Courtauld in 2018. His 2018-19 Sackler Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Courtauld studied representations of gender and race in Brexit’s art. He has contributed to The Irish Times, Irish Studies Review, The Irish Review, Photoworks Annual, Burlington Contemporary, Architectural Review, immediations, Source Magazine, and the Barbican’s Masculinities (2020) exhibition catalogue. He co-convenes The Courtauld’s Gender & Sexuality Research Group, and is currently editing a book on Imagining the Apocalypse (Courtauld Books Online). He is a member of the Association for Art History’s DECR Project Board. Past projects (below):

Contested Bodies: Gender, Sexuality and the Legacies of the ‘Troubles’ in Visual Culture
Supervised by Prof. Mignon Nixon
PhD funded by CHASE/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

The PhD research examined art and visual culture produced after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, exploring how the conflict was registered by and worked through in the collective imagination. Looking at artworks and films by Willie Doherty, Ursula Burke, Mariah Garnett, Steve McQueen, Maeve Murphy, Dudi Appleton, Rita Duffy, Mary McIntyre, Malcolm Craig Gilbert and Stuart Griffiths – considering how cultural representations of the ‘Troubles’ from 1998 stage and shatter the historic gender norms that were cultivated to support the conflict.

‘Taking Back Control’?: Gendering Brexit’s Visual Culture
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Sackler Research Forum

The 2018-19 Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Courtauld asked how a feminist, queer and anti-racist politics might be brought to bear on the political rhetoric and visual culture surrounding Brexit. What might visual culture tell us about Britain’s changing place on the world stage? How might artists offer us the opportunity to reflect on the feelings of powerlessness and loss of control that the Brexit process has given rise to? The fellowship also involved a conference on Imagining the Apocalypse and a lecture series called Artists on Brexit, as well as management of The Courtaud’s Early Career Research Network.

Research Roles

  • Freelance Research Assistant, Association for Art History, January 2021 – present.
  • Research Continuity Fellowship, The Paul Mellon Centre, June – December 2020.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, The Courtauld, September 2018 – August 2019.


  • PhD, The Courtauld (2014-18, AHRC/CHASE-funded).
  • History of Art MA, University College London (2012-13, Distinction).
  • English and Art History BA, University of Sussex (2009-12, First Class Honours, Art History Prize).


  • Associate Lecturer, The Courtauld (October 2019 – April 2020).
  • Teaching Assistant, The Courtauld (October – November 2017).
  • Teaching Assistant, The Courtauld (October – November 2015).
  • Teaching Assistant, University of Sussex (November – December 2015).

Editorial Work

  • Editor, Imagining the Apocalypse, Courtauld Books Online (forthcoming)
  • Co-editor-in-chief, immeditaions, Volume 4, Number 1 (December 2015 – December 2016).

Admin Experience

  • Event Producer, The Courtauld (January 2020 – March 2020).
  • Co-founder, Gender & Sexuality Research Group, The Courtauld (June 2019 – present): running seminars and workshops.
  • Organised a two-day conference, Imagining the Apocalypse, The Courtauld (October 2019).
  • Organised a lecture series, Artists on Brexit, The Courtauld (2018-19).
  • Ran the Early Career Researchers Network, The Courtauld (2018-19).
  • Co-organiser, RES|FEST x Belfast, Ulster Museum (25/10/2018).
  • Admin Assistant, The Courtauld Institute of Art, October 2017 – August 2018.
  • Co-founder, Gender, Sexuality and Violence Research Network (November 2016 – October 2017): co-organised a series of seminars and a major international conference at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Curatorial Experience

  • AHRC-funded Curatorial Placement, Ulster Museum (February – April 2016).
  • Curatorial Trainee, Brighton Photo Fringe (August – October 2014): curated three exhibitions as part of the festival.
  • Director, International New Media Gallery (May 2012 – December 2016).


Research interests

  • Northern Ireland, Britain, Ireland
  • Brexit
  • Gender, Sexuality, Race
  • War and Peace
  • Nationalism, Imperialism
  • Pacifism
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Contemporary art and visual culture


  • Adobe InDesign training, Media Training Ltd (2018).
  • Oral History training, British Library (2015).
  • Public Speaking training, City Academy (2015).

Recent publications

Journal articles and art criticism

Conference papers, talks, lectures

  • ‘Brexit’s Visual Culture’, Invited Lecture, University of East Anglia (23/03/2021).
  • ‘Brexit and the Occult: Gendered Ghosts of Empire’, Invited Lecture, University of Sussex (04/02/2020).
  • ‘Brexit and the Occult: Gendered Ghosts of Empire’, Invited Lecture, Royal College of Art (27/01/2020).
  • ‘Gendering Brexit’s Magical Thinking: Rita Duffy’s Soften the Border (2017)’, Britain and Europe: Art and Exchange from the Medieval Period to Brexit, Paul Mellon Centre (28/10/2019).
  • ‘Gender, Sexuality and Historical Time in Brexit Britain’, New Contemporaries 70th Anniversary Conference, The Courtauld Institute of Art (25/10/2019).
  • ‘Brexit and the Occult: Gendered Ghosts of Empire’, Research Lunch, Paul Mellon Centre (11/10/2019).
  • ‘Witchcraft, Brexit and Northern Ireland: Rita Duffy’s Soften the Border (2017)’, Conference of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures, Trinity College Dublin (22-26/07/2019).
  • ‘Is Brexit an occult phenomenon?’, RES|FEST, The Courtauld Institute of Art (26/04/2019).
  • ‘Gendering Brexit’s Gut: Masculinity, Digestive Anxieties, and Visual Culture’, Public Programmes Invited Lecture, The Courtauld Institute of Art (26/04/2019).
  • ‘Brexit and the Occult: Racism, Whiteness, and Visual Culture’, Association for Art History Annual Conference, University of Sussex and University of Brighton (06/04/2019).
  • ‘Hard Brexit Masculinity: Erections, Masturbation, and ‘Taking Back Control’’, Queer Conversations, The Courtauld Institute of Art (01/03/2019).
  • ‘Gendering Brexit’s Gut: Eating, Excreting and the Museum of London Fatberg’, Brexit Wounds, Manchester Metropolitan University (30/10/2018).
  • ‘Is Brexit the apocalypse?’, RES|FEST x Belfast, Ulster Museum (25/10/2018).
  • ‘Is the Museum of London Fatberg a Metaphor for Brexit?’, RES|FEST, The Courtauld Institute of Art (25/04/2018).
  • ‘The Sexual Politics of ‘Peace’: Heterosexuality and Masculinity in Dudi Appleton’s The Most Fertile Man in Ireland (1999)’, Agreement 20, Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester (07/04/2018).
  • ‘Gendering the 2017 UK General Election: Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Digital Culture’, Association for Art History 2018, The Courtauld Institute of Art / King’s College London (05/04/2018).
  • ‘Handmaidens to Feminist Fists: Unruly Arms and Maeve Murphy’s Silent Grace (2001)’, Irish Prisons: Perspectives on the History and Representation of Irish Forms of Containment, Crumlin Road Goal, Belfast (27/10/2017).
  • ‘The Politics of Semen and the Northern Irish Peace Process: Dudi Appleton’s The Most Fertile Man in Ireland (1999) and Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008)’, Fluid Physicalities, Birkbeck, University of London (10/03/2017).
  • ‘Untameable Beasts: Gendered Representations of Nonhumans and the Northern Irish Peace Process’, Art and the Environment in Britain, 1700 to Today, Rennes 2 University (03/03/2017).
  • ‘Containment and Contagion: Re-thinking Trump’s Wall/Wound’, Masculinity in the Time of Trump: A Feminist Response to Wounding and Victimhood, The Courtauld Institute of Art (26/01/2017).
  • ‘Uncontrollable Intimacies: Masculinity, Masturbation and the Erotics of Violence in Northern Ireland’, Precarious Subjects, Trinity College Dublin (10/06/2016).
  • ”Democratising’ Curating: Speed, Sexuality, Selfies’, 22nd International Symposium on Electronic Art, City University of Hong Kong (18/05/2016).
  • ‘Bursting Bodies, Shattering Selves: Northern Irish (Post-)Conflict Masculinities in Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008)’, Art and Conflict, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (01/05/2015).

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