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Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory

Transitions and Transformations


Edited By Marguerite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Ruud van den Beuken

Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory presents the latest research from Irish studies scholars across a variety of disciplines, including history, literature, theatre, photography and folklore, and generates new and challenging insights into the dynamics of cultural remembrance in Irish society. Featuring contributions by leading researchers in the field such as Guy Beiner, Graham Dawson and Emilie Pine, this collection demonstrates how the examination of Irish cultural legacies can illuminate our understanding of processes of identity formation, heritage policies, canonization, musealization and the transgenerational and transcultural inflections of the past. Investigating topics such as trauma, contested politics and commemorative practices, and exploring recent theoretical developments, the volume offers an interdisciplinary overview of the recent cross-fertilization between memory studies and Irish studies.
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12 Memory, ‘Post-Conflict’ Temporalities and the Afterlife of Emotion in Conflict Transformation after the Irish Troubles (Graham Dawson)


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12 Memory, ‘Post-Conflict’ Temporalities and the Afterlife of Emotion in Conflict Transformation after the Irish Troubles

It is simply too soon to ask Northern Ireland to set about an official and systematic exploration of the history of the Troubles. Even now […] the wounds are still too sore, the divisions too deep and the past too hotly contested. Just talking about how Northern Ireland might deal with the conflict’s legacy generated scenes of anger and bitterness of a type many dared to hope were themselves in the past.1

[T]here comes a time when we should accept that no matter how many more investigations we hold, or how many witnesses we call, or how much money we spend, they are unlikely to achieve anything more of use. That time has come. For Northern Ireland, the path to lasting peace lies in looking to the future, not raking up the past.2

These two statements, both contributions to debates in the Northern Ireland peace process about how to ‘deal with the legacies’ of past conflict during the Troubles, were made within five years of each other, in 2009 and 2013 respectively. Read together, they give rise to two questions that will be addressed in this chapter. Firstly, they invite consideration of how conflicting understandings, evaluations and activations of temporality play out in ‘post-conflict’ culture and complicate efforts towards ‘dealing with the past’ in Northern Ireland. Secondly, they prompt reflection on...

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