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Non-Violent Resistance

Irreverence in Irish Culture


Edited By Agnès Maillot, Jennifer Bruen and Jean-Philippe Imbert

Humour, by its very nature controversial, plays an important role in social interaction. With its power to question assumptions, it can be used a weapon of subversion, and its meaning and interpretation are embedded within the culture that generates them in complex ways. The scrutiny of Irish culture through the lens of humour is highly revealing, contributing to an alternative, and sometimes irreverent, reading of events. As John Updike wrote of Raymond Queneau’s witty re-imagining of the Easter Rising, humour can effectively expose «casual ambivalence».

This volume investigates the many ways in which writers, playwrights, politicians, historians, filmmakers, artists and activists have used irreverence and humour to look at aspects of Irish culture and explore the contradictions and shortcomings of the society in which they live.

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5 Just Books: An Alternative Bookstore in Belfast (Fabrice Mourlon)


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5 Just Books: An Alternative Bookstore in Belfast

In the last decade, various publications or artistic events have documented and looked at alternative cultural, political and economic movements and discourses in post-conflict Northern Ireland. They all use the common phrase ‘Alternative Ulster’ borrowed from a song written by the Belfast punk band Stiff Little Fingers in 1979.1 The following are but a few examples of new discourses about Northern Irish society.

The exhibition ‘Mapping Alternative Ulster’ hosted at the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre in Armagh until January 2017 challenged the traditional representations of divisions in Northern Ireland by showing a ‘more nuanced […] landscape, rural and urban (which) is much more than a site of conflict’.2 The Alternative Ulster Magazine (2003–2012) offered an outlet for alternative music, arts and culture. In 2013, broadcaster Mark Carruthers published Alternative Ulsters: Conversation on Identity which considers the complex building of identities in Northern Ireland.

Therefore, the post-conflict period in Northern Ireland seems to allow for spaces that challenge dominant discourses on political divisions and give a voice to the voiceless. The relative peace seems to foster a more reflexive attitude to conflicting views of the past and to allow for the examination of alternative attitudes and practices to the mainstream antagonisms.

Since the beginning of the peace process in the 1990s, a host of oral history projects by academics or voluntary organisations have documented the lives...

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