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Title: Lest we forget : the politics of commemoration, loyalty and peacebuilding at the centenary of the Somme
Author: Evershed, Jonathan
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 2696
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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Based on original ethnographic research, this thesis examines the complex relationship between politics, loyalty and peacebuilding in Northern Ireland during the so-called Decade of Centenaries. Drawing on the post-structural concept of ‘haunting’, deconstruction of Ulster Loyalist commemoration of the Battle of the Somme reveals its role in the intra-communal politics and symbolic (re)construction of the Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist (PUL) ‘community’ in Northern Ireland, and the hauntological reassertion of Loyalist ‘knowledge’ in a politico-historical moment defined by ontological crisis. I discuss the central importance of empathy (though not ‘communion’) in the ethnographic encounter with this community, for whom the present is ‘out of joint’. I demonstrate that the ‘anti-politics’ of peacebuilding - as represented in newly dominant and ‘official’ forms of commemoration in Northern Ireland, the wider UK and the Republic of Ireland - is founded on particular, implicitly political claims about the nature, of history, memory and commemoration and the relationship between them. This ‘anti-politics’ and its ‘public transcript’ on commemoration during the Decade of Centenaries is experienced by Ulster Loyalists, as one aspect of a broader ‘culture war’. In a social, cultural, political and economic context defined for Loyalists by this ‘culture war’, commemoration represents attempts by Loyalists to restore the (imagined) ontological security of the past. The Somme represents Loyalism’s imagined ‘Golden Age’, the promise of which its commemoration both seeks to guarantee and acts to defer. If this process of differance renders the Somme’s promise irredeemable, then it also creates possibilities for the negotiation and articulation of progressive Loyalist politics based on an intimate familiarity with violence and its consequences. These politics, and the forms of knowledge about violence and the political on which they are based, are repudiated by the dominant historicist discourse on commemoration and ‘the past’ in Northern Ireland which attempts to deny its own political foundations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available