Passive Archives or Storages for Action? Storytelling Projects in Northern Ireland

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In the absence of political agreement on an overall mechanism for dealing with the past in Northern Ireland, storytelling has become a prevalent mode of addressing the legacy of violent conflict. Accordingly this paper opens up two parallel tracks of examination: one exploring the (ideally) more comprehensive and egalitarian approach to accessing the past found in forms of oral history; and the other considering the process of those stories being made into records, and the dynamics of the archive. The contested realm in which both storytelling projects and archives operate condition how they are funded, assembled, described, opened and maintained in the process of which some stories may be privileged and others marginalised or subsumed (Brown 2013). Adopting the idea that story-telling as a form of ‘witnessing’ is also an ethico-political act (Kurasawa 2009), the paper discusses what kind of discourses may be empowered by the online maintenance, and instant accessibility of memory in oral history archives. Drawing on a qualitative study of two story-telling projects in Northern Ireland, the paper brings out the potentialities of accounts in fostering social change and transforming cognitive patterns of conflict as well as exploring the extent to which this mode of accounting for ‘life during conflict’ works in producing/repeating stories that inculcate and perpetuate particular norms, practices and values. Crucially, I consider storytelling as a conduit for remembering, that is at once shaped by the absence of policies and legal frameworks, but also is shaping subsequent policies to deal with the past as can be seen in the latest political accord, which includes it as a key approach.
TidsskriftIrish Political Studies
Sider (fra-til)63-85
Antal sider24
StatusUdgivet - 19 jan. 2016


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