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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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Richard Kirkland

Few aspects of Northern Irish political culture are as denuded as those that attempt to locate and understand the terrorist act. From the exasperation of Margaret Thatcher’s outburst at the time of the Hunger Strikes that ‘it is not political, it is a crime’, to the exhausted freedom fighter/terrorist binary opposition recently pressed back into service by Peter Mandelson, terrorism has consistently been perceived as an act that defies the realm of civic discourse. Indeed, it has been the traditional role of language in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist atrocity to present itself as unable to capture the overwhelming materiality of the event itself. What, so the argument runs, can words offer in the face of such violence? Understood as such, every terrorist outrage becomes unspeakable.

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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."

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Linguistic Identities in Post-Conflict Societies

Current Issues and Developments in Northern Ireland

Freya Stancombe-Taylor

Introduction Languages are at the forefront of the current political stalemate in Northern Ireland, a disputed constituent region of the United Kingdom that, at the time of writing, has been without a working regional government for over two

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Nicola Bermingham

Philip McDermott (2012), Migrant Languages in the Public Space: A Case Study from Northern Ireland (Münster: LIT), 320 pp., Pb: €29.90, ISBN: 978-3643800992.

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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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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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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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Jennie Carlsten

Director Steve McQueen's 2008 film Hunger employs strategies of narrative fracture in its account of the 1981 Northern Irish hunger strikes. Through the formal devices of ellipsis and descriptive pause, the film creates space for viewer reflection on, and immersion in, the emotions associated with trauma and loss. Looking at these formal devices as emotion cues, and considering the film as a case study in the cognitive study of film, this article offers an 'emotional reading' of Hunger.

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Editorial

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Jonathan Skinner

Welcome to the thirteenth year of Anthropology in Action publication, and our second with Berghahn. This is the start of volume 13 and, contrary to superstition, we have the great fortune to make it a strong and fascinating start as a double issue on anthropology and policy in Northern Ireland. In this issue, Dominic Bryan (Queen’s University Belfast), an anthropologist and ethnographer of the Orange Order and their parades as well as public rituals in general, has brought together articles from the latest academic and policy research taking place in the north of Ireland. This collection of articles also goes to show how embedded Queen’s University Belfast is as a key institution in Northern Ireland. As a university, Queen’s is not only one of the main revenue earners in Northern Ireland, but is also a centre for the study of the north of Ireland, a place where academics explore and examine social, political and economic developments around them and, crucially, shape, influence and determine the N’orn Irelan’ scene.