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‘Trying to reach the future through the past’: murals and commemoration in Northern Ireland

Rolston, Bill (2010) ‘Trying to reach the future through the past’: murals and commemoration in Northern Ireland. Crime Media Culture, 6 (3). pp. 285-307. [Journal article]

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DOI: 10.1177/1741659010382335


Ireland is sometimes said to be cursed with a surfeit of history; memory is seen as oneof the principal causes of an endless cycle of violence. In contrast, this article focuses oncollective memory and examines the way in which this was drawn on as a resource byrepublican and loyalist communities in terms of identity and endurance during almostfour decades of conflict. These identities were displayed in various commemorationsand symbols, including wall murals. During the peace process these murals have beenjudged officially to be anachronistic, leading to a recent government-funded schemeto remove them, the Reimaging Communities Programme. This article questionsthe political motivation of this programme. It considers the attempts by people inrepublican and loyalist areas to come to terms with the peace process by emphasizingtraditional symbols of identity, while at the same time reinterpreting them for a newera. Symbols can be the bridge between the past and the future which makes thepresent tolerable.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:collective memory; identity; murals; Reimaging Communities Programme; revisionism
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies
Research Institutes and Groups:Transitional Justice Institute
ID Code:17475
Deposited By: Prof Bill Rolston
Deposited On:15 Mar 2011 10:54
Last Modified:17 Oct 2017 15:56

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