Chapter 20 “I just call mesel’ a heathen”: Catholic Identity and Magdalene Survivors

In: Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 31
Chloe K. Gott
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Drawing extensively from an oral history project taken by Justice For Magdalenes Research, which collected around eighty interviews with survivors and other key informants, this article focuses on experiences of Catholic identity in the context of a carceral abusive religious environment, specifically the Magdalene institutions in twentieth-century Ireland. It explores how survivors experienced their faith whilst in the institutions, as well as how they (re)engaged with organised religion – and their own personal faith – after leaving the laundries.

Focusing on the ways gendered religious subjectivities are produced, as well as how religious actors communicate these, I consider the various ways in which women negotiated their religious relationships within this specific carceral context. By situating an awareness of these complex religious relationships within the social and cultural context of twentieth-century Ireland, I demonstrate how this is fundamental to a better understanding of the impact of the Magdalene institutions on Irish society.

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