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Band Development in Northern Ireland

Ethnographic Researcher to Policy Consultant

Jacqueline Witherow

This article examines the concept of 'band development' taking place within the parading band culture in contemporary Northern Irish society. The parading tradition in Northern Ireland today is associated with two main characteristics; first, the public image of contemporary parading traditions is mainly negative due to its association with parading disputes that particularly developed in the 1990s. Second, that aggressively Protestant Blood and Thunder flute bands have become a dominant feature of these public performances. It is these ensembles that are defining people's notions of what parading bands represent. This article will discuss how ethnographic research with these bands allowed engagement on a policy level to take place, leading to 'band development'.

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When They Write What We Write

Young People's Influence on Policymaking in Northern Ireland

Rosellen Roche

This article discusses young people's influence on a recent policy initiative conducted among Catholic and Protestant school leavers in Northern Ireland's second largest urban area, Derry/Londonderry. The programme, the Toward Reconciliation and Inclusion Project or TRIPROJECT, was Northern Ireland's first dedicated attempt to target young school leavers in a survey project and sought to involve the young people in the selection of questions used within the survey. The article opens with a brief discussion on the predicament of anthropology's situation of 'informants' and the criticism that often follows post-field discussions. The article then moves to discuss TRIPROJECT as a case example of applied anthropology actively involving 'informants' in the process of knowledge gathering and analysis presentation, emphasising how informants had control over the process of scholarship. The article ends by addressing this experience within the context of anthropology and the interpretation of questions and answers between 'informants' and those who study them.

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The Anthropology of Ritual

Monitoring and Stewarding Demonstrations in Northern Ireland

Dominic Bryan

Rioting in Northern Ireland sometimes appears endemic. The control of public space, through the utilisation of rituals and symbols, has played a significant part in the violent conflict and has remained a central issue since the 1998 Multi-Party Agreement institutionalised the peace process. This article draws upon ethnographic research and anthropological models of ritual to explore policy interventions in conflict resolution over potential public disorders. In particular, it looks at the use of monitors, mediators and marshals at parades and demonstrations and describes how anthropological fieldwork has played a role in developing projects and policies that offer solutions to a cycle of intercommunal street violence.

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Cultivating New Lives

An Ethnographic Pilot Study of Eco-therapy Provision for People with Alcohol-related Problems in Northern Ireland

Amelia-Roisin Seifert

Humankind's relationship to, or place within, the non-human environment is a vast topic both existential and scientific, and is a rising concern in burgeoning subfields of anthropology. This paper offers a report on the findings of a pragmatic, practice-focused and policy-orientated ethnographic pilot study (Seifert et al. 2011). Following the observation of a gap in research in the dual areas of eco-therapy and non-medical alcohol interventions and rehabilitation in Northern Ireland, the pilot, conducted on behalf of Alcohol Research U.K., set out to locate and scope existing provisions of eco-therapy opportunities in Northern Ireland with particular recourse to interventions whose service users include people with a problematic alcohol-use background. Following the recommendations set out by various summary reports by anthropologists engaged in 'alcohology' (Gilbert 1991; Heath and Glasser 2004; Hunt and Barker 2001; Marshall et al. 2001; Weibel-Orlando 1989), public health more widely (for example, Hahn and Inhorn 2009), and eco-therapy in particular (Burls 2007; Milligan et al. 2004; Parr 2007), a multidisciplinary methodological approach was piloted as particularly relevant to a substantial further study reporting on the effectiveness of eco-therapy as a public-health intervention. An introduction to concepts surrounding eco-therapy precedes an illustration of two key eco-therapy project scenarios benefiting those with alcohol problems in Northern Ireland. The results of this brief analysis suggest both research-paradigmatic and practical directions that could advance the understanding and the effectiveness of this intervention in the future.

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Kirk Simpson and Hastings Donnan

In this article we focus on Protestant and Catholic relationships in the borderlands of south Armagh in Northern Ireland and north Monaghan in the Irish Republic. Studies that emphasise Protestant and Catholic relationships at the urban or macro level have done little to unravel the complex processes of relationship-building that operate along the border, where Catholic and Protestant not only live in close proximity to one another and cooperate in a range of everyday activities, but where in the recent past each 'side' has used ethnic identity to select targets for assassination. The complexities of intercommunal dynamics in rural border areas and the ways in which they impact upon relationships between border Protestants and Catholics are discussed, with particular reference to moments that have significantly shaped their political subjectivity, most notably the sectarian violence that erupted in 1969 and which was formally brought to a close by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Such complexities, we suggest, muddy the over-dichotomised view of the Irish borderlands that often informs public policy making.

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Murphy Out of Place

Ethnographic Anxiety and Its 'Telling' Consequences

Liam D. Murphy

In Belfast, Northern Ireland, as elsewhere, myriad problems of epistemology and research design confront ethnographers entering the field for the first time. While these often remain a permanently taxing wellspring of frustration and anxiety, their apparent resolution through experience can occasionally lull researchers into a false sense of security in the context of social interaction with field respondents. By exploring an instance in which the author neglected to apply his understanding of the important Northern Ireland phenomenon of 'telling', the article shows how method and epistemology should always be borne in mind during fieldwork situations—even those implicitly discounted a priori as nonethnographic. While such relaxation of self-awareness may precipitate various blunders and ethnographic faux-pas, it also opens up spaces of critical inquiry into the collaborative constitution of selves and others in field situations, and refocuses the ethnographer's awareness of his positioning as an outsider in webs of social activity.

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Policing, Policy and Practice

Responding to Disorder in North Belfast

Neil Jarman

Rioting and street disorder have been a recurrent problem in Northern Ireland over the course of the peace process. This article reviews a range of the responses that have been developed to try to address the disorder and to better understand the process of the creation and development of policy. The article starts from interpretation of policy as a process of social relations involving the interaction of different sectors of society and it discusses how government and community actors have responded in different ways to the violence, but over the course of time have come to a broadly shared understanding of the most appropriate means of managing the conflict.

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Robin Whitaker

Many feminists have been troubled by questions of friendship in ethnographic research. For some critics, such assertions elide power imbalances, invoking a 'sisterly identification' built on essentialist models of gender. In this article I combine insights gained from partisan ethnography in the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition with feminist theory to argue that the problem lies not with claims to friendship as such, but with a naturalized model in which friendship is treated as a power-free zone. A more politicized approach to friendship offers analytical tools for thinking about methodological, epistemological, political and applied problems in feminist anthropology and politics and to wider questions about the relationship between intellectual and political life, critique and solidarity.

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Playing with Teaching Techniques

Gamelan as a Learning Tool Amongst Children with Learning Impairments in Northern Ireland

Jonathan McIntosh

This article examines gamelan as a community musical tool in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. In particular, the article demonstrates how traditional pedagogic practices are changed in order to suit the needs of those who learn gamelan. A gamelan is an orchestra that includes metallophones (large glockenspiel-like instruments), gongs and drums. Originating from Southeast Asia, particularly from the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali, gamelan ensembles have long been used in the teaching of ethnomusicology in academic institutions and for purposes of applied ethnomusicology, as a musical tool, in the wider community. In these contexts, a gamelan instructor acts as a 'mediator' (Naughton 1996: 16) in the transmission of gamelan knowledge; mediating not only between the music and the learners, but also between the role of gamelan in its original sociocultural context and its newly adopted milieu. Drawing upon my experiences as a gamelan instructor, in particular, teaching children with visual and hearing impairments, I demonstrate how traditional teaching techniques are adapted to facilitate the learning of gamelan in the Northern Irish context.

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Social Circus and Applied Anthropology

A Synthesis Waiting to Happen

Nick McCaffery

This article explores the potential for developing anthropological investigation in the field of social circus – in particular with those projects that work with individuals living with disabilities. The author uses examples of research in Belfast to argue that the applied nature of anthropology is the ideal mechanism for analysing and comparing the emerging field of social circus projects around the world. In this case, anthropological tools were utilised that had a direct effect, not only on understanding the phenomenon of social circus projects but also on raising the levels of quality, leading to a direct improvement on services provided.