Voices from the Early Days – Mary Buckley

Mary Buckley speaks about the Women in Politics Course, and how it came about at Edinburgh

Órla Murray: When did the Women in Politics course start?

Mary Buckley: …Cross check with others, I think it started in ’87, ’88. Female students had asked for it. And I confess my reaction was… double-edged, because a part of me thought, ‘that’s great’, and a part of me thought, oh no, my teaching load is heavy enough, and there’s so much to keep up with regarding the Soviet Union. But yes of course we did it.

ÓM: Did they come to you specifically, or the department? What was the negotiation around whether or not that course would run? Was it like, ok yeah the students want this course, or was it just, does someone have the room to teach this?

MB: Oh, it wasn’t about the room. I honestly can’t remember how it happened, I mean I think we just thought we’re morally bound, we ought to do it. Because- I could see the sense of having it. Even though it was extra work. It was those two issues. And I knew how to throw together a course on it really easily, because it was only a one-term course, it was a half course, not a full year course [1]. Maybe by then we’d lost the five weeks in the summer term, I honestly don’t remember. And it’s very easy to do liberal theory and socialist theory, radical feminism, and then later, I wrote in Black feminism. Alice and Fiona had a more British politics strength whereas I was Soviet and East European politics, also I brought in ‘women and war’ as a topic, which I liked. So we each had our different strengths that we could pool.

 

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[1] Mary Buckley also observed in her full interview that she had taught on two women’s studies courses before coming to Edinburgh at the Open University and for an MA at the Institute of Education when she was teaching part-time in 7 institutions in London. Her doctorate too helped her put together the Women in Politics course, and included political theory on the ‘woman question.’