Nothing but the same old story?
Otherness, belonging and the processes of migrant memory
in Life history and the Irish migrant experience in post-war England
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Focusing on the memory of a single racially charged event, namely the 1996 Manchester bomb, this chapter analyses how three migrants negotiate problems of self-positioning and belonging dramatised by the effects of the Troubles in England. The event of the bomb, it is argued, serves as a lens through which to illuminate the wider workings of Irish communal memory of the conflict, including its dynamic relation to English societal narratives on the Troubles and the processes of personal memory production. Attending to the articulation of these dynamics, the chapter explores how the ambivalence of English discourse was mirrored in the internal divisions of Irish communal memory, and how individuals’ personal histories of adaption over the life course conditioned how these divisions were interpreted and incorporated into the self. Personal memories of the bomb were thus not unmediated recollections of the event or its aftermath, but embodied attempts to negotiate this complex discursive landscape in order to manage or resolve the contradictions of identification which the Troubles dramatised. As such, they shine a light upon the Troubles as a significant identity problem for the Irish in post-war England, revealing of the complex, variegated and mutating nature of Irish belongings during the period.

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