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Title: Troubled generations? : an oral history of youth experience of the conflict in Belfast, 1969-1998
Author: Newby, Lucy
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 3254
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis is an oral history of youth experience in Belfast during the Northern Ireland Conflict, 1969-1998. The focus of the thesis is on two key areas. Firstly, it historically interrogates the experiences of children and young people in Belfast during the years of the ‘Troubles’. Secondly, it critically explores the ways in which those who grew up in the violently disrupted environment of the city have since reflected upon and made sense of their experiences in the ‘post-conflict’ era. This dual focus upon youth conflict experience and its legacies in the present provides a means of contributing to—and challenging the limits of—current scholarly debates within the fields of cultural memory and post-conflict studies in Northern Ireland, as well as engaging with emergent themes in the fields of childhood studies, historical justice and critical oral history theory and practice. Through a close analysis of nine oral history narratives, this thesis reconsiders the ways in which children and young people living in regions to the north and west of Belfast that were heavily affected by the conflict experienced their everyday lives during the years of armed violence. Significantly, it challenges the dominant interpretation of the young as members of ‘troubled generations’; transformed by the presence of violence into tragic victims or destabilised combatants. Drawing on the critical oral history methodologies of Alessandro Portelli, Alistair Thomson, Penny Summerfield and Graham Dawson, it considers the circulation of such categories in popular memory culture, proposing an engagement with this culture as a dynamics of power, or hierarchy of speakability and hearability, which works to de-limit the articulation of more complex, unfixed or uncertain narratives of the conflict and its impacts. To recognise that such a hierarchy of speakability and hearability exists is also to recognise that new techniques are needed in order to create space for the articulation of more intricate or ambivalent narratives of conflict. This thesis proposes that we move beyond the effort to elicit the fully-formed counter-narrative in critical oral history and instead focus on those fugitive and sometimes fleeting moments of narrative defiance, which trouble and contest dominant representations of the ‘troubled generations’, testing their limits and tearing at their edges. By focusing on moments of narrative defiance within the interviews, the thesis expands the field of possible methodologies for interpreting the ways in which individuals subjectively articulate their experiences of conflict as children and young people. It offers new insights into the impacts of conflict on everyday youthful life in Belfast, and the dynamics of post-conflict memory in the present.
Supervisor: Michail, Evgenios Panagiotis ; Dawson, Graham Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Oral History ; Children ; Teenagers ; Youth ; Northern Ireland ; Everyday Life