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Critically interpreting the past

Simpson 05 19/1/09 11:43 Page 100 5 Memorialisation in post-conflict societies Critically interpreting the past Introduction Throughout societies like Northern Ireland that have experienced the deleterious effects of political violence, the creation of fitting memorials should be integral to the efforts of transitional policymakers to combat widespread ambivalence towards the suffering of victims and the legacy of conflict; and also to combat the malign efforts of those who would seek to colonise history with recourse to partisan, exclusionary material

in Truth recovery in Northern Ireland
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Politics and society in Northern Ireland over half a century

After three decades of violence, Northern Ireland has experienced unprecedented peace. It is now generally accepted that the peace accord which ended the Northern Ireland conflict, the 1998 Belfast Agreement, is an exemplar of this trend. This book examines the impact of the 1998 Agreement which halted the violence on the Northern Irish people. It covers changes in public opinion across all areas of society and politics, including elections, education, community relations and national identity. The surveys presented show that despite peace, Protestants and Catholics remain as deeply divided as ever. The book examines the development of the theory of consociationalism and how it has been woven into the intellectual debate about the nature of the Northern Ireland conflict. The role of religion in conflict transformation has emerged as an important issue in Northern Ireland. Ethnonationalism in Northern Ireland is fuelled by its multifaceted and complex nature. The constitutional position of Northern Ireland has been the topic of recurring debate since partition in 1920. The role of education in promoting social cohesion in post-conflict societies is often controversial. The book explores both the nature and extent of victimhood and the main perpetrators of the political violence. The key elements of a consociational approach include a grand coalition representing the main segments of society; proportionality in representation; community (segmental) autonomy; and mutual vetoes on key decisions. The main lesson of peace-making in Northern Ireland is that political reform has to be accompanied by social change across the society as a whole.

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Place, identity and peacebuilding

agents. Similarly, semantic accounts have started to reflect on the suitability of the language of domination in post-conflict societies, as such a vocabulary embodies ­imbalanced power relations and cultural domination (Lemay-Hébert et al. 2014). However, these existing accounts lack a dynamic conceptualisation of identity in post-conflict societies. This chapter proposes a new account of the identity of agents in conflictaffected societies. It investigates how place and performativity shape the identity of agents and their positionality towards peacebuilding

in The politics of identity
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Simpson 06 30/3/09 09:34 Page 123 6 Conclusion The Northern Irish conflict, as an illustrative example of a wider phenomenon in transitional contexts, highlights the refusal of many post-conflict societies to face up to the legacy of political violence and suffering. The deleterious effects of long campaigns of paramilitary and counter-paramilitary violence upon victims in Northern Ireland and beyond are shocking, and often graphic.Throughout this book, however, the description and analysis of the often dull, disconnected, colourless and emotionless world

in Truth recovery in Northern Ireland

At the heart of all efforts to bring about reconciliation in post-conflict societies is the question of how to deal with the victims of violence. The resolution of this issue is often considered the litmus test of a successful peace endeavour for societies emerging from conflict. Irrespective of whether restorative or retributive forms of justice are applied to a conflict, the recognition

in Conflict to peace

This book offers a new and critical perspective on the global reconciliation technology by highlighting its contingent and highly political character as an authoritative practice of post-conflict peacebuilding. After retracing the emergence of the reconciliation discourse from South Africa to the global level, the book demonstrates how implementing reconciliation in post-conflict societies is a highly political practice which entails potentially undesirable consequences for the post-conflict societies to which it is deployed. Inquiring into the example of Sierra Leone, the book shows how the reconciliation discourse brings about the marginalization and neutralization of political claims and identities of local populations by producing these societies as being composed of the ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ of past human rights violations which are first and foremost in need of reconciliation and healing.

Critically interpreting the past

Northern Ireland has entered what is arguably the key phase in its troubled political history—truth recovery and dealing with the legacy of the past—yet the void in knowledge and the lack of academic literature with regard to victims' rights is particularly striking. This book analyses truth recovery as a fundamental aspect of the transition from political violence to peace, democracy and stability in post-conflict Northern Ireland. It argues that it is essential for any process of truth recovery in Northern Ireland to provide the victims of political violence with the opportunity to express and articulate their narratives of suffering within the context of public dialogic processes. The book outlines an original model: that victims of political violence should be enabled to engage in meaningful truth recovery through a Habermasian process of public democratic deliberation and communication involving direct dialogue with the perpetrators of such violence. This process of ‘communicative justice’ is framed within Habermas' theory of communicative action, and can help to ensure that legitimate truth recovery publicly acknowledges the trauma of victims' and subjects' perpetrator narratives of political violence to critical scrutiny and rational deconstruction. Crucially, the book aims to contribute to the empowerment of victims in Northern Ireland by stimulating constructive discussion and awareness of hitherto silenced narratives of the conflict. This difficult and unsettling interrogation and interpretation of the conflict from a comparatively ‘unknown perspective’ is central to the prospects for critically examining and mastering the past in Northern Ireland.

If walls could talk

Northern Ireland is regarded as one of the most successful 'post conflict' societies in the world. The reimaging of Belfast as a 'post conflict' city tends to gloss over these persistent divisions. This book provides a thought provoking and comprehensive account of teenagers' perceptions and experiences of the physical and symbolic divisions that exist in 'post conflict' Belfast. Despite Northern Ireland's new status as one of the most successful examples of the resolution of what was once seen as an intractable conflict, the peace walls which separate Protestant and Catholic areas remain in place. The book examines the micro-geographies of young people and draws attention to the social practices, discourses and networks that directly or indirectly (re)shape how they make sense of and negotiate life in Belfast. It focuses is on the physical landscape enclosing interface areas and the impact that it has on the perceptions and actions of young people living in these areas. The book explores how physical divisions are perceived and experienced by young people who live in interface areas and how they view the architecture of division. It pays attention to the impact of place on teenagers' social relations within and between the localities in which they reside. The city centre of Belfast epitomises the city's status as a 'post conflict' city. A recurring argument is that identity does not exist 'out there'. The book shows how social relationships are inherently spatial and how identities are influenced by place and impact on it.

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most modern TRCs in regard to their language, practices, staffing techniques and the standardised way in which they interpret the pasts and the presents of post-conflict societies. Truth telling is now commonly conducted in public, whereby clerics or therapists assist the alleged victims and perpetrators of human rights violations with their testimonies, which eventually feed into a standardised national narrative of the past conflict. The

in Discourse, normative change and the quest for reconciliation in global politics
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mediation in such conflicts is to ‘encourage parties to adopt power-sharing in exchange for war’ (Sisk, 2008 : 196). Two approaches have dominated efforts at resolving intercommunal division in ethnically divided post-conflict societies: consociationalism and integration. While both approaches advocate inclusive solutions to ethnic conflict, or solutions that are based on

in Conflict to peace