Edwin Coomasaru - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Edwin Coomasaru

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Edwin Coomasaru

Research Forum Administrative Assistant; PhD student

Thesis: Contested Bodies: Northern Irish Masculinities and the Legacy of the ‘Troubles’, 2005-15
Supervised by Prof. Mignon Nixon
Funded by CHASE/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

My research is a feminist-pacifist-queer studies analysis of recent artistic representations of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ (1969-98), including work by Steve McQueen, Maeve Murphy, Malcolm Craig Gilbert, Willie Doherty, Ursula Burke, Stuart Griffiths, Mariah Garnett, Mary McIntyre and Rita Duffy. The project considers how hegemonic constructions of gender were propagated by Republican, Loyalist and British forces at the beginning of the conflict in order to cultivate a militaristic climate: notions of soldierly self-sacrificial men, defenders of their (female) nation and its women, whose domestic-bound duty involved mothering future fighters. My work examines how such conservative ideals were shattered by the very consequences of the conflict: men suffered trauma and bodily damage, women became activists and paramilitaries. My study questions whether these shifts in gendered norms contributed to bringing the ‘Troubles’ to an end, and what this might mean for thinking about the relationship between masculinity and war.

Co-founder of the Gender, Sexuality & Violence Research Network (funded by the AHRC/CHASE).


  • PhD Candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2014-present)
  • 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 (Autumn 2017), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • MA Core Methodology Course (Autumn 2015), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • Art and Politics, 1979-Present (Autumn 2015), University of Sussex.
  • Art after 1945 (Autumn 2015), University of Sussex.

Research interests

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

Other academic activity

  • Co-founder, Gender, Sexuality and Violence Research Network (2016-present)
  • Steering Group, Early Career Research Network, The Courtauld (2016-present)
  • Curatorial Assistant, Ulster Museum (2016)
  • Oral History training, British Library (2015)
  • Public Speaking training, City Academy (2015)
  • Student Advisory Group, CHASE (2014-2015)
  • Postgraduate Advisory Group, The Courtauld (2014-15)
  • Curatorial Trainee, Brighton Photo Fringe (2014)
  • Director, International New Media Gallery (2012-present)

Recent publications


Conference papers

  • ‘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 (10/3/2017).
  • ‘Untameable Beasts: Gendered Representations of Nonhumans and the Northern Irish Peace Process’, Art and the Environment in Britain, 1700 to Today, Rennes 2 University (3/3/2017).
  • ‘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 (26/1/2017).
  • ‘Opening Wounds: Jeremy Deller’s Performances of History, 2001-16’, immediations 2016 Launch, The Courtauld Institute of Art (7/12/2016).
  • ‘Uncontrollable Intimacies: Masculinity, Masturbation and the Erotics of Violence in Northern Ireland’, Precarious Subjects, Trinity College Dublin (10/6/2016).
  • ”Democratising’ Curating: Speed, Sexuality, Selfies’, 22nd International Symposium on Electronic Art, City University of Hong Kong (18/5/2016).
  • ‘Bursting Bodies, Shattering Selves: Northern Irish (Post-)Conflict Masculinities in Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008)’, Art and Conflict, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (1/5/2015).


Documentary Film

Editorial work

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