The case of the Magdalene Laundries illustrates how the Irish state has shaped cultural narratives of gender and facilitated a persistent gendered violence toward women formerly incarcerated in the laundries. The vital role of cultural memory in constructing these gendered identities is considered in light of how shared silences and the restriction of archival material have omitted the Magdalene women from Ireland's dominant historical narrative, rendering them “invisible.” This championing of one version of events (in this case, one that silences Magdalene women) has implications for survivors. We argue that survivor oral histories (for example, those gathered as part of the Waterford Memories Project) provide a way to understand the meaning of what happened to the Magdalene women, establish an openly accessible record of these narratives, and validate survivors' experiences.

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