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Kate Mahoney

I was a doctoral researcher at the Centre for the History of Medicine from September 2013- September 2017. My PhD thesis was titled:

"'Finding our own solutions": the women's movement and mental health activism in late twentieth-century England'.

I was supervised by Dr Laura Schwartz and Dr Mathew Thomson and generously funded by the Wolfson Foundation.

I am now a Post-doctoral Research Assistant on the three-year project 'Body, Self and Family: Women’s Psychological, Emotional and Bodily Health in Britain, c. 1960-1990', based at the University of Essex and funded by the Wellcome Trust. I can be contacted via email at and my staff page is available here.

My doctoral thesis provides the first in-depth examination of women’s movement members’ interactions with psychological and psychotherapeutic discourses in England from 1968 to 1995. Using detailed case studies of Women’s Liberation consciousness-raising and psychology groups, the London-based Women’s Therapy Centre, and the mental health charity Mind, it traces the impact of women’s movement politics on local and national health policy and practices. Drawing on oral history interviews, feminist periodicals, autobiographies, and previously unexplored materials contained at the Mind Archives, my thesis reframes the history of community care, charting the influence of local organisations and political movements that operated beyond state-led mental health services. My study therefore connects histories of health and social action with those of self-identity and feminism.

My Research

My PhD thesis is centred on the research question:

What was the role of the WLM in reshaping mental health care in post-war Britain?

Answering this central question will be facilitated via a series of sub-questions:

  • When and how did the second-wave feminism develop a critique of contemporary psychology and mental health provision?
  • How and why did second-wave feminists nevertheless begin to theorise and subsequently employ tenets of psychology and psychiatry?
  • How important was second-wave feminism in the development of community-based mental health provision and new conceptualisations of mental illness, and to what extent did such thinking extend beyond feminism to the wider population?

Answering these questions will facilitate the fulfilment of this project’s central aims.

My research has two key aims. First, it seeks to contribute new dimensions to our understanding of developments in mental health care in late twentieth century Britain and to specifically examine the role of second-wave feminism in this process. We still know relatively little about the important historical transition from institutional to community care in British mental health provision. Second, it seeks to expand the historiography of second-wave feminism, an area currently in its infancy, integrating histories of post-war feminism into a pioneering historiography on 1980s community politics and grassroots activism. The scope and significance of this research extends to present political and social debate. The story of the challenges of integrating a feminist perspective into community-based therapeutic organisations, particularly when petitioning for financial subsidies from external institutions, relates to ongoing debate over values, funding and mental health.

Methodologically, my research applies feminist theory as an analytical tool and takes seriously second-wave views. My work uses oral history interviews with individual feminists extensively, both previously recorded by other historians, and those carried out by myself. There is also much scope to generate original material through oral history and engagement with feminist therapeutic organisations whose histories remain undocumented. I will dissect generalised second-wave attitudes and demonstrate how interviewees interacted with psychological discourses as both feminists and everyday women, countering arguments that feminists did not acknowledge “ordinary” female experiences. Therefore, this research will also incorporate theories of emotional practice and experience, as well as explorations of researcher subjectivity. My research also draws on various written sources, including: feminist publications; medical and psychological accounts of women’s mental health; newspapers and women’s magazines. Given the current exciting renewal of interest in the history of second-wave feminism, and the importance of engaging with its participants while still available, this is an ideal time to be undertaking this research.


Edited Collections:
  • Co-edited with Joachim Haeberlen and Mark Keck-Szajbel, Politics of Authentic Subjectivity: Countercultures and Radical Movement Across the Iron Curtain, 1968-1989 (Berghahn Books, forthcoming).
Journal Articles:
Chapters in Edited Collections:
  • ‘“It’s Not History. It’s My Life”: Researcher Emotions and the Production of Critical Histories of the Women’s Movement’, in Tracey Loughran and Dawn Mannay (eds), Emotion and the Researcher: Sites, Subjectivities and Relationships (Emerald Books, forthcoming).
  • With Elizabeth Ablett and Heather Griffiths, ‘Resisting the seduction of academic production: (un)making the neoliberal subject through feminist practice’, in Maddie Breeze, Cristina Costa and Yvette Taylor (eds), Educational Futures and Fractures: Time and Space in the Neoliberal University (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).
  • 'The Political, Emotional and Therapeutic: Personal Histories of Consciousness-raising in the English Women’s Liberation Movement', in Joachim Haeberlen, Mark Keck-Szajbel and Kate Mahoney (eds), Politics of Authentic Subjectivity: Countercultures and Radical Movement Across the Iron Curtain, 1968-1989 (Berghahn Books, forthcoming).

Academic Profile

2013-present: Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick- PhD History;

2011-2012: Cardiff University, Cardiff- MA (Hons) Medical History (Distinction);

2008-2011: Cardiff University, Cardiff- BA (Hons) History (First-Class Honours).

Grants and Awards

May 2016: Feminist Review Early Careers Workshop Bursary;

2013-2016: Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities;

June 2012: Women’s History Network (West of England and South Wales) Annual Bursary;

2011-2012: Cardiff University Masters Studentship;

July 2011: Dorothy Marshall Prize for Best Undergraduate Coursework in Modern Social History, Cardiff University.

Conference and Workshop Papers

May 2016: 'Women, Mental Health and MIND: The Influence of Feminism on a Mental Health Charity', Feminist Review Early Careers Workshop (SOAS University of London);

April 2016: '"The Liberating Possibilities of Psychotherapeutic Techniques": The Negotiation of Therapy and Politics in Women's Liberation Movement Psychology Groups in 1970s England', European Social Science History Conference (Universitat de València, Spain);

July 2015: 'Finding Our Own Solutions: The Women's Liberation Movement and Mental Health Provision in Post-war England', Wolfson Postgraduate Scholars in the Humanities Symposium (British Academy, London);

June 2015: 'The Political, Emotional and Therapeutic: Personal Histories of Consciousness-Raising in the English Women’s Liberation Movement', New Subjectivities, New Emotions, New Politics: Oppositional Politics and Counter Cultures Across the Iron Curtain During the Long 1970s- International Workshop (Center for Interdisciplinary Polish Studies, Europe University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany). I also co-organised this event;

July 2014: 'Historicising Consciousness-Raising: the Personal, the Political and Women’s Mental Health', Situating Women's Liberation; Historicising a Movement (University of Portsmouth);

May 2014: '"One in every six women and one in every nine men": Second-wave feminism and mental health in post-war Britain', Warwick History Postgraduate Conference (University of Warwick);

January 2014: ‘Emotion and the Feminist Researcher: Writing Histories of the Women’s Liberation Movement’, Emotion and the Researcher: Workshop 1 (Families, Identities and Research Network, Cardiff University);

January 2014: ‘“The Personal is Political”? Consciousness-Raising and Changing Definitions of “Therapy” in the British Women’s Liberation Movement, 1969-1979’, British Society for the History of Science 2014 Postgraduate Conference (University of Leeds);

June 2013: ‘“The Personal is Political”? The Women’s Liberation Movement and Contemporary Psychologies in Britain, 1960-1985: An Oral History Project’, West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network 20th Annual Conference: Women and Protest in a Historical Perspective (Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, Bath);

March 2012: ‘“We’re not beautiful or ugly. We’re angry”: Second-wave feminism and the social depictions of women in Britain, 1960-1980’, Women and Media: Representations Past and Present (Queen’s University, Belfast).


August 2017: Postgraduate seminar tutor, Warwick Sutton Trust Summer School (University of Warwick);

September 2014- June 2015: Seminar tutor, Making of the Modern World (first year undergraduate core module);

January 2015: '"Cultures of Activism": The Women's Liberation Movement and Consciousness-Raising': lecture given to Feminism, Politics, and Social Change in Modern Britain (undergraduate final year Advanced Option) students.

Other Responsibilities

2016-2017: Administrator, University of Warwick Feminist History Group;

2016: Co-organiser, 'Breaking our silences on the neoliberal academy: facilitating change from a postgraduate perspective', University of Warwick (26 October, 2016);

2016: Peer reviewer, Retrospectives: A Postgraduate History Journal (University of Warwick);

2015- present: Organising committee member, University of Warwick Centre for the Study of Women and Gender Graduate Seminar Series;

2015: Oral history interviewer, Voices of the University: Memories of Warwick, 1965-2015, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick;

2014-2015: Co-organiser, 'New Subjectivities, New Emotions, New Politics: Oppositional Politics and Counter Cultures Across the Iron Curtain During the Long 1970s' international workshop, Center for Interdisciplinary Polish Studies, Europe University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany (12-13 June 2015). A review of the workshop can be found here;

2013-2015: Chair, Postgraduate History Student Staff Liaison Committee, University of Warwick;

2013-2014: Co-organiser of the Centre for the History of Medicine Reading Lunch, University of Warwick;

2012-2013: The West of England and South Wales Women's History Network Committee Member;

June 2012: Research Assistant, Teesside University.

Further Training

October-December 2014: 'Producing Feminist Research- PhD Workshop', advanced module for PhD students hosted by the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, University of Warwick, convened by Dr Maria do Mar Pereira.  

January 2014: Material Culture Skills Session, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick, convened by Dr Jack Elliott;

May-June 2012: ‘Doing Oral History: Recording, Editing and Presenting Life Stories’, an eight-week training programme at Butetown History and Arts Centre, Cardiff, co-convened by Dr Glenn Jordan and Dr Owen Collins.


Mary Barnes

Mary Barnes and Joseph Berke ©

Red Women

Red Women's Workshop, 1976 ©