Article Spotlights – Northern Ireland

articlespotlight From the SEN archives, this week’s Article Spotlights focus on Northern Ireland, which has attracted international news attention over the past couple of weeks due to the arrest of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Each of the articles ‘spotlighted’ here considers ‘post-conflict’ analyses of the shared and divided society in Northern Ireland.

Cillian McGrattan’s article considers ideas around the ‘shared society’ of Northern Ireland since 1998:

 Cillian McGrattan, ‘Moving On’: The Politics of Shared Society in Northern Ireland, Volume 12, Issue 1, April 2012, pp. 172-189.

‘Debates over the direction of the Northern Irish peace process have moved from decommissioning and all-party inclusion to community relations and whether society is becoming more or less integrated and shared. This article contends that what is missing from this debate is consideration of the fact that a process of de-politicisation is occurring – specifically, inspired by a progressivist imperative, political discourse and engagement are increasingly moving from the public sphere to more privatised concerns. I argue that that vision does not speak to the trauma of the past and that the silencings, limitations, and dilemmas it leads to are most lucidly seen in recent Northern Irish drama productions. I conclude by sketching an alternative ethical vision based on an attachment to remembering historical injustices and a repudiation of the social pressure to draw a line under the past.’

Wallace McDowell’s focus on representations of Britishness and masculinity within the Loyalist community:

Wallace McDowell, Staging the Debate: Loyalist-Britishness and Masculinities in the Plays of Gary Mitchell, Volume 9, Issue 1, April 2009, pp. 89-112.

‘This paper, which emanates from the field of theatre studies, examines plays written by Belfast writer Gary Mitchell in and around the time of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement of 1998. Mitchell occupies a unique position in Irish theatre, being the first playwright to emerge from and offer a dramatic critique of paramilitary-dominated Loyalist communities. Central to the paper is the argument that Mitchell offers a set of important insights into how such communities reflect academic debates around masculinities, imagined national communities and the relationship between masculinity and violence. The paper looks at three plays which received premieres around the time of the Belfast agreement and utilises the theoretical approaches offered by proponents of hegemonic masculinity as well as post-Foucauldian thinkers.’

This article by Anna Drake and Allison McCulloch considers the role of history education in divided ‘post-conflict’ societies like Northern Ireland:

Anna Drake and Allison McCulloch, Deliberating and Learning Contentious Issues: How Divided Societies Represent Conflict in History Textbooks, Volume 13, Issue 3, December 2013, pp. 277-294.

‘History education can either exacerbate polarization and division or it can have conciliatory potential. Looking at a number of divided societies, we identify trends in curriculum portrayals of inter-group conflict. Noting the power of re-telling the past, we argue for a conciliatory approach to textbook design that entails the inclusion of multiple narratives. We detail why groups need to set out their own account of events and discuss the importance of the way that groups develop their accounts. We recommend an institutional, process-based approach to textbook design grounded in the values of deliberative consociationalism and argue that the conciliatory approach is best pursued in a two-stage model of deliberations. We develop this model and focus on how deliberations might occur and with what restrictions, taking seriously concerns about the applicability of deliberation in divided societies.’

Article spotlights compiled by Dr Shane Nagle.

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