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Theorizing Democracy and Violence

The Case of Northern Ireland

Adrian Little

This article examines the concept of violence in contemporary political theory focusing in particular on the possibility of rethinking the relationship between violence and democracy. Rather than seeing democracy and violence as contrasting concepts, it argues that democratic societies have always been founded on the basis of violent engagement at some level. And, of course, the modern state has always claimed the legitimate use of force as a key ingredient in its authority. The article contends that many contemporary democratic discourses have lost sight of the integral relationship between democracy and violence. Indeed it is frequently the case that discourses of democracy are couched in ethical terms as the obverse of violence. Ironically, this trend is often most apparent where societies are either making a transition to democracy or where a process of conflict transformation is taking place. The limitations of these approaches for our understanding of violence and democracy will be outlined in this article through an examination of contemporary political developments in Northern Ireland.

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Linguistic Identities in Post-Conflict Societies

Current Issues and Developments in Northern Ireland

Freya Stancombe-Taylor

This article assesses the identity politics of language in post-conflict Northern Ireland, where language debates at a political level have been encased in questions of identity. However, despite the continued existence of ethnocentric narratives around language, opportunities have emerged for individuals to cross linguistic barriers and challenge the perspective that certain languages ‘belong’ to certain communities.

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Calling It Mammon

Instrumentalised Secularity and Religious Futures in Northern Ireland

Liam D. Murphy

Competitive funding by the European Union for community projects in Northern Ireland operates according to a political logic in which some groups and projects (deemed progressive, modern and generally secular) are prioritised, while others (discursively positioned as anachronistic, traditional and religious) are precluded. In this process, EU processes of statecraft seek to instrumentalise grassroots organisations as means to the many ends of a disenchanted, modern EU federation. In turn, overtly religious groups (among them churches, parachurches, and confraternities of various kinds) adapt to these conditions by instrumentalising EU processes and goals to the general end of securing a future place for religiosity in the 'new' Northern Ireland. This paper discusses the intersection of religious objectives and ideologies with that of European modernism in the context of two organisations: the Orange Order and the Divine Fellowship Congregation (DFC). Speci fically, I argue that both associations have developed distinctive forms of practice (the 'Orangefest' and 'Utopia' projects, respectively) that re-conceive what is possible for modern EU-funded initiatives. This adaptation has implications for both sets of institutions, in that each is transformed through articulation with the other.

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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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From soft to hard law?

Culture, identity, and language issues within the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights process

Elizabeth Craig

This article explores the use of soft law by those involved in the drafting of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, drawing in particular on the author's experiences as legal adviser to the Culture, Identity, and Language Working Group of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. The article reflects on the extent to which the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities 1995 and other relevant international instruments can be considered as forms of international soft law. It then highlights controversies that have arisen in debates over the content and scope of provisions addressing culture, identity, and language issues in any future Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

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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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'I Listen to the Soundtrack and I'm Back There in the Day'

Impacts of Performing Memory in Northern Ireland

Magdalena Weiglhofer

This article addresses the function of public presentations of personal memory in a post-conflict context and explores whether they may contribute to a preservation of that conflict. In particular, it examines the reception of performed memories of violence and its aftermath by audiences who have lived through similar experiences. To do this, it will discuss observations from empirical research on a verbatim theatre production in Northern Ireland, Heroes with Their Hands in the Air, that used interviews with relatives of those killed or wounded in an incident that came to be known as 'Bloody Sunday'. Drawing on the responses to the stories portrayed, it argues that, although such performative re-enactment of memory may contribute to an affirmation of collective identity and thus to preserving boundaries, it allows a community of memory to examine past events of suffering and explore impacts that reach into the present.

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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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Between Trauma and Healing

Tourism and Neoliberal Peace-Building in Divided Societies

John Nagle

Deeply divided societies that have undergone extreme civil violence are often framed as "collectively traumatized" or in a state of "melancholia." Such aetiologies support peace-building initiatives, which seek either to normalize society by forgetting the legacy of violence and starting anew or by engendering societal remembering to work through trauma and bring about societal healing and eventual "closure." Examining the case of Northern Ireland, this article considers how these discrepant processes regarding collective trauma have become bound with fierce ethnopolitical debates and counter-insurgency methods regarding how to promote the region to tourists. I argue that both approaches represent nostrums, which do little to support peace-building and are ultimately complementary with neoliberal designs concerning the relationship among tourism, economic prosperity and conflict-regulation. Discourses concerning "collective trauma" must therefore be viewed as political strategies to shape the nation, which are finally embodied in the tourist journey to "traumatized sites."