Dr Edwin Coomasaru - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Dr Edwin Coomasaru

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Dr Edwin Coomasaru

Postdoctoral Fellow

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

My 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 – my thesis considers how cultural representations of the ‘Troubles’ from 1999, but in particular from 2007, stage and shatter the historic gender norms that were cultivated to support the conflict.

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

I am the 2018-19 Postdoctoral Fellow at The Courtauld: my research project, ‘Taking Back Control’?: Gendering Brexit’s Visual Culture, aims to ask how a feminist, queer or pacifist politics might be brought to bear on the political rhetoric and visual culture surrounding Brexit. My analysis considers film, newspaper cartoons and social media memes alongside the Museum of London’s fatberg and contemporary art. 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? I am organising a conference on Imagining the Apocalypse and a lecture series called Artists on Brexit.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, The Courtauld Institute of Art, September 2018 – August 2019.
  • Admin Assistant, The Courtauld Institute of Art, October 2017 – August 2018.


  • PhD Candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2014-18)
  • History of Art MA, University College London (2012-13, Distinction)
    • Dissertation on the representation of Northern Irish masculinities in Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008).
  • English and Art History BA, University of Sussex (2009-12, First Class Honours, Art History Prize)
    • Dissertation on Irish masculinity between 1916-39 in the work of Seán Keating, Sean O’Faolain and Flann O’Brien.


  • MA Core Methodology Course (October – November 2017), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • MA Core Methodology Course (October – November 2015), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • Art and Politics, 1979-Present (November – December 2015), University of Sussex.
  • Art after 1945 (November – December 2015), University of Sussex.

Research interests

  • Northern Ireland
  • Britain
  • Brexit
  • Gender
  • War
  • Nationalism
  • Imperialism
  • Sexuality
  • Queer studies
  • Pacifism
  • Feminism
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Post-conflict
  • Contemporary art

Other academic activity

  • Co-organiser, RES|FEST x Belfast, Ulster Museum (25/10/2018).
  • Adobe InDesign training, Media Training Ltd (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.
  • Co-editor-in-chief, immeditaions, Volume 4, Number 1 (December 2015 – December 2016).
  • AHRC Curatorial Placement, Ulster Museum (February – April 2016).
  • Editorial board, immeditaions, Volume 3, Number 4 (January – December 2015).
  • Oral History training, British Library (2015).
  • Public Speaking training, City Academy (2015).
  • Student Advisory Group, CHASE (October 2014 – June 2015).
  • 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).

Recent publications


Conference papers

  • ‘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).


Documentary Film

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