Parading memory and re-member-ing conflict: Collective memory in transition in Northern Ireland

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Parading memory and re-member-ing conflict: Collective memory in transition in Northern Ireland This paper leverages an understanding of collective memory to examine the politico-cultural practice of parading in Northern Ireland and so extends our knowledge of the role of memory and commemoration in peace processes. Parades offer a particularly interesting case here precisely because of the multiple and contested ways in which they tie memory in with wider societal, cultural and political fabrics, and traverse spatial and temporal, social, cultural and political terrains. For parades are about memories: they both memorialize past events and incite new memories through particular social and embodied practices. They are about memory and place, as they are tied to particular routes and local dynamics. They are about memory and violence: they generally commemorate events, men and victims of violence, but they also enact new paths and scripts of violence. They are about memory and politics, as they reflect and challenge shifting relations to the state. And they are about memory and transitions, because they negotiate tradition in dialogue with wider trajectories of political and demographic change. In all these ways, they are vernaculars that can unsettle received or official narratives attempting to smooth over differences and anxieties in transitory times. The emotive use of collective memory to charge processes of identity formation often form part of protracted and sectarian conflict (Horowitz [1985] 2000; Bar-Tal 1997; Cairns & Roe 2003; Mann 2005; Roudometof 2002; cf. Asmal et al. 1996). In this context, commemoration and memorialisation work to enhance and reinforce exclusive group solidarities (Abou Assi 2010; McDowel & Braniff forthcoming 2014). The study of peace processes thus demands specific understandings of the role of history and memory as conflict dynamics, as well as strategies for studying these as both critical events and as critical continuities. In Northern Ireland, parades provide a unique case for this approach as they draw on and reframe collective memories through partly ritualised practices that at once challenge and are regulated by the state, reflecting dynamics of identity politics between political institutions and cultural traditions in societal transitions. As such, they offer a locus for studying horizontal and vertical collective memory discourses, as well as their circulation in conflict and during conflict transformations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventParading Memory and Re-member-ing conflict: Collective memroy in transition in Northern Ireland - Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts/ Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 10 Nov 201410 Dec 2014


SeminarParading Memory and Re-member-ing conflict
LocationCentre for Resolution of International Conflicts/ Copenhagen University

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