Lest We Forget: Memory, Trauma, and Culture in Post-Agreement Northern Ireland

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Abstract

While the Good Friday Agreement heralded a new beginning
in Northern Ireland, its promotion of amnesty and amnesia, and its
“rhetorical dismemberment of the past,” effectively occluded the
experiences of victims. Rather than engage in the seductive embrace of
cultural amnesia, much Northern Irish art focuses upon the dangers of
forgetting the past. For visual artists and writers alike, a wilful neglect of
history may result in the return of the repressed and in psychic breakdown
on both the communal and individual levels. Works by Jack Pakenham,
Ciaran Carson, Colin Davidson, Frank McGuinness, and Willie Doherty use
the trope of “haunting” to allow readers/viewers to bear witness to the
plight of those left behind by the Agreement’s rhetoric and to understand
their post-conflict trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-107
Number of pages26
JournalCanadian Journal of Irish Studies
Volume39
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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