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Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory

Transitions and Transformations


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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13 Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Disremembering (Guy Beiner)


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13 Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Disremembering

In the decade and a half since the turn of the millennium, Irish Studies has taken on the ‘memory boom’ with vigour. The significant advances that have been made in our understanding of Ireland’s rich memorial cultures and social practices can be sampled in the diverse, though somewhat disjointed, assortment of essays collected in the four volumes of Memory Ireland, edited by Oona Frawley.1 Further impressive achievements are evident in an ever-growing body of scholarly literature, not least in the explosion of new publications issued for the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ (commemorating the landmark events around the time of the Great War and the Irish Revolution), of which it is still too early to take stock. As a suggestion for future progress, I would like to propose that the study of the dynamics of remembering could benefit from a sharper awareness of the too-often overlooked dynamics of disremembering.

In introducing the concept of ‘disremembering’ to Irish Studies – and to Memory Studies at large – it is worth noting the seemingly trivial absence of a hyphen. This term is not the product of arcane wordsmithing, as in the fetishized hyphenation of ‘re-membering’ in writings of postmodernists.2 ‘Disremember’, a verb that means ‘forget’, is an Irish vernacular term, with ← 297 | 298 → a noted northern regional provenance. Its oral use has been documented, for example, in a late nineteenth-century Glossary of Words in Use in the...

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