Edwin Coomasaru

(header image credit: Edwin Coomasaru)

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Project Title: Contested Bodies:Northern Irish Masculinities and the Legacy of the ‘Troubles’

Main supervisor: Professor Mignon Nixon

Research interests

Northern Ireland, Britain, gender, war, nationalism, imperialism, sexuality, queer studies, pacifism, feminism, psychoanalysis, post-conflict, contemporary art.

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, Duncan Campbell, Malcolm Craig Gilbert, Willie Doherty and Stuart Griffiths. 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.


  • Research student, Courtauld Institute of Art (2014-present).
  • History of Art MA, University College London (2012-13, Distinction).
  • English and Art History BA, University of Sussex (2009-12, First Class Honours, History of Art Prize).

The Courtauld Institute of Arts presents Doctoral Docs.
Northern Irish Masculinities and the legacy of the 'Troubles'. 2005-2015



  • Denise Bowler and Edwin Coomasaru, ‘Are galleries just for girls?’, Museums Journal (May 2016), p.17.

Conference papers and lectures given

  • ‘Bursting Bodies, Shattering Selves: Northern Irish (Post-)Conflict Masculinities in Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008)’ at Art and Conflict symposium, Wolfson College, Oxford (1/5/15).
  • ‘Uncontrollable Intimacies: Masculinity, Masturbation and the Erotics of Violence in Northern Ireland’ at Precarious Subjects symposium, Trinity College Dublin (10/6/16)
  • ”Democratising’ Curating: Speed, Sexuality, Selfies’ at 22nd International Symposium on Electronic Art, City University of Hong Kong (18/5/16)


  • 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.

Recent publications

Other academic activities

  • Co-editor-in-chief, immediations journal (2016)
  • Editorial board member, immediations journal (2015)
  • Oral History training, British Library (2015)
  • Public Speaking training, City Academy (2015)
  • Student Advisory Group, CHASE (2014-15)
  • Postgraduate Advisory Group, The Courtauld (2014-present)
  • Curatorial Trainee, Brighton Photo Fringe (2014)
  • Director, International New Media Gallery (2012-present)