Syllabus—Conflict in Northern Ireland: An OnLine Course
This is a description of a course on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which occurred between 1968 and 2002. The course is based on lectures given by scholars and participants from Northern Ireland to students the Bucknell in Northern Ireland studyabroad program between 2001 and 2005. We used these materials to prepare Bucknell students for their Northern Ireland visit in years after 2005. We also ran this as a “live” class at Bucknell (it was a 300level Sociology class).
While these lectures could be the basis of an actual college course, the twelve lectures included here will provide useful background for anyone trying to understand the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Bucknell in Northern Ireland Video Archive at present includes fortyeight tapes and since the conflict is complex with many layers a person is likely to have trouble understanding what people are talking about unless they first build up some knowledge and background of the history and key issues involved.
Here is the order in which we recommend watching tapes.
Tom Fraser, Introduction to the Issues Tom Fraser, History professor and Provost at McGee College, University of Ulster (the branch located in Derry) gives a historical overview of issues leading up to the development of the Troubles in 1968. This is partly a chronology of Irish history over 1000 years, which is necessary background. The history is organized around several themes most importantly the historical geographic risk Ireland has posed to England and the historical conflicts between Catholics and Protestants
Paul Arthur, Politics of the Troubles Paul Arthur, Professor of Political Science at McGee College, University of Ulster, provides a history of The Troubles from 1968 to 2000 in the first set of lectures and then in an additional tape talks about politics in Northern Ireland from 2000 to 2005. Arthur’s narrative gives a clear but compact summary of major events and of the evolution of conflict and political negotiation over the 30year span. The narrative is remarkable in combining a sophisticated political theory perspective with personal anecdotes since Arthur was both a significant player in the unfolding of events and a leading media commentator on the Troubles. Paul Arthur, along with another of our lecturers, Mari Fitzduff, was part of an influential group of leaders who behind the scenes, responded to Catholic interest group concerns, worked with Protestant militant groups, and had personal relationships with leaders both in Northern Ireland and the United States. (there are two copies of this on Digital Commons. The first one, the second thumbnail in row #2 on page #5 should be deleted). In the Paul Arthur series, the thumbnail that is the fourth on row 2 of Page #5 should go first. The thumb that is the first one on p. 6 should go second. The one that is the third thumb in row 2, page #5 should go third.
Ed Cairns, Trauma, and Reconciliation. Psychologist, Ed Cairns provides an analysis of the Northern Ireland conflict using identity theory, where the propensity to engage in violence and conflict is not viewed as pathological but rather as a normal and conforming product of being part of an identity group sharply differentiated from an opposed group. While identity theory as articulated by Cairns seems logical and well supported, the approach is sharply attacked by other speakers (especially sociologists Chris Gilligan and Kaitlin Donelly but also Nobel Prize winner John Hume) elsewhere in this archive. Cairns lecture is much valued by those students who have backgrounds in the discipline of psychology and he is the leading expert in the world from that discipline.
Arthur Williamson and Nicholas Acheson, Civil Society and Policies to Reduce Conflict. Support reading: Birrell, D. and A. Williamson, Arthur (2001)”The Voluntary Community Sector and Political Development in Northern Ireland Since 1972″ VOLUNTAS 21(3): 205220 (2001). The organizations that engage in conflict are voluntary organizations of various kinds. Paramilitary organizations are the most aggressive in terms of conflict but there are a variety of other “community organizations” that overlap with and intersect with paramilitaries. The more relationships in these associations overlap and intersect, the more communities can be woven together. The more associations are kept separate so that relationships do not overlap, the more likely crosscommunity conflict is to develop. In this talk, leading experts on civil society organizations in Northern Ireland talk in detail about the importance of these organizations and the place they have assumed in the conflict over the 30 years of The Troubles.
Civil Rights Panel: Ivan Cooper, Eamonn McCann, Bernadette McCalsky, Eamonn Deane, The Civil Rights Panel This panel is a group discussion by the leaders of the civil rights march that became Bloody Sunday in 1972. Personal histories of Protestant Ivan Cooper and of dynamic student leader Bernadette Devlin McAlsky are important. Eamonn McCann provides a particularly sharp edged analysis of the origins and underlying political or theoretical causes of the conflict. Cooper provides an excellent summary of the history of events that led first to the formation of the Civil Rights Movement and then to the collapse of this movement in the face of armed opposition by the police, the British army, and the government. It is important to have the background of the previous lectures, but this discussion by key participants is one of the exciting, important tapes in this archive.
Bishop Edward Daly and Bishop James Mehaffey: The Bishops 2005.
This is the third visit by these two men to our class (and Bishop Daly visited by himself, sharing the lectern with John Hume) and each of the other tapes is riveting and well worth watching. This tape is selected for the course because in addition to personal reflections from each man about being a church leader during the conflict, there are important discussions of integrated education and of the hunger strikes. The hunger strike presentation by Bishop Daly is particularly important, especially when linked to Paul Arthur’s lecture about the nature and importance of the hunger strikes. Since about half of the hunger strikers were from the Bogside in Derry, they were Father Daly’s parishioners so he regularly made pastoral visits to them. This put him in the position of being one of the two lead representatives of the Catholic position in negotiations with Margaret Thatcher and the British government. Hearing his direct, personal account of this work gives vivid importance to the more analytic presentation we hear from Paul Arthur.
Grace Fraser, Integrated Education in Practice Primary and secondary education in Northern Ireland are mostly segregated, with both Catholic schools and state schools (which are de facto Protestant). funded by the state. Residential segregation grew through the years of the troubles. Thus, some would think integrated schools would be an important way to counter residential separation, fostering crosscommunity relationships and reducing the insularity of sectarian identities. Grace Fraser gives a historical account of the founding and early years of the integrated school movement and talks about the process by which these schools, initially privately funded, secured state funding. Fraser’s emphasis is on the quality of education achieved in these schools through a close partnership between parents and teachers. She expresses doubt that integrated schools could actually be a solution to process by which these schools, initially privately funded, secured state funding. Fraser’s emphasis is on the quality of education achieved in these schools through a close partnership between parents and teachers. She expresses doubt that integrated schools could actually be a solution to conflict in Northern Ireland.
Kaitlin Donelly, Integrated Education (complete metadata are not accurately or fully entered and links to transcript and analytic notes are not provided) The idea that primary and secondary schools should be integrated across ethnic or sectarian groups is a familiar as an idea to help resolve problems in conflict societies so it has been attempted in both Israel and Northern Ireland. Donelly has done research comparing the effectiveness of integrated education in the two societies. One point of comparison is cultural, and she observes that norms in Israel encourage open and direct talk and this helps to bring issues to the front that integrated education seeks to resolve. This is less true in Northern Ireland where there is a traditional culture of reticence. Perhaps more serious from Donelly’s perspective is that once integrated schools came to be state funded (following the early history given by Grace Fraser), the schools became subject to staff retention, hiring, and promotion rules of the system as a whole and it also became more subject to curricular requirements of the general school system. There were advantages to teachers in terms of promotion for working in integrated schools and in Donelly’s view this has led to a teaching staff that is neither committed to nor knowledgeable about the goals, principles, and proper practices of integrated education. While she personally thinks integrated education might be a good idea, in practice it is undermined by bureaucratic practices that are intrinsic to the state system of education in Northern Ireland,.
Chris Gilligan, Trauma, Victimhood, and Identity in the Northern Ireland Peace Process For some of our speakers (Cairns, Bryan), conflict in Northern Ireland is intertwined with issues of identity, where affiliation with one of the sectarian groups motivates or legitimates hostile acts toward the other groups. The Northern Ireland peace agreement, the Good Friday Agreement, is built around the notion of identity in the sense that nearly every government representative or administrative structure must include members of the two identity groups. Gilligan is a critic of identity theory. In an earlier lecture he made the point that few people in Northern Ireland would name sectarian identity as their primary source of identity but rather they would point to things like their gender, their experience of living with a handicap, or a professional or artistic commitment. Identities are made up of many separate strand and some are more salient than others. What happens when sectarian identity is made central is that it becomes difficult for groups built around other identities to form (since they cut across the sectarian divide) and it becomes extremely difficult for them to come together as interest groups that can make their needs known in the political context. In the current lecture, Gilligan further challenges the notion of identity by saying that in sociological terms identity implies affiliation with an identity group. We see this with many social movements and it does represent the way some people relate to sectarianism, but for the most
part people do not have intentional, selfconscious sectarian identities. His talk builds off this idea in the form of a complaint that the concept of identity is used in many ways where there is an implication that some experiences have driven people to share an identity with others and to build an affiliation, but where in fact you cannot empirically show that this has happened. He uses the example of psychological support groups and therapy intended to help people who have experienced posttraumatic shock. There is tremendous support and funding for this kind of assistance but in his research he has discovered that the people who receive these services, often children, often have not in fact had the sorts of conflict and trauma experiences that are thought to lead to PTSD. People nonetheless embrace this identity and seek and receive services. Gilligan argues that PTSD therapy actually is a kind of fad, sought out by parents who are overly anxious about their children and who would accept any professional service that is labeled as therapy. Caregivers for their part see an opportunity to benefit from funding for these services and thus they are disinclined to be discerning or critical in terms of deciding to whom they will provide services. From this Gilligan argues that the is not actually anything called “identity” related to this service and what is more significant is that identity problems are used as a way of imagining that services will be useful and that they therefore should be funded.
Dominick Bryan, Urban Space and Identity Formation During the Troubles May 30, 2008; Fawcet International Hotel, Belfast(metadata entries on DC are not correctespecially check location) Anthropologist Dominick Bryan provides a framework for understanding murals and the banners and behaviors related to Protestant marching in terms of how communities define their boundaries and community members develop a sense of identity related to community membership. Bryan argues that the conflict in Northern Ireland can well be understood in terms of conflict over space. Prior to 1970 civic space was entirely controlled by Protestants. This meant that monuments and public art were always devoted to memorializing Protestant people and events and Catholics had few or no public symbols related to their history, culture, or traditions. The Troubles began with protests launched by the Civil Rights Movement where their actions and demands focused on having the right to march and otherwise use civic space. Violent reactions to those demands and the political struggles that followed caused gradual
change so that Catholics were able to claim and establish rights to paint murals and otherwise decorate and define civic space within their neighborhoods and to memorialize people and events. Through these representational activities, Catholics were able to define neighborhood space and this in turn made it easier for them to create a collective identity. Following this Catholic action, working class Protestants also began creating murals and other visual symbols to create neighborhood space in opposition to government control. Bryan makes the important point that the way space is defined and used is a matter of power, who controls power, and how it is expressed. Bryan also points out that power is complex and that its exercise is related to what he calls policing. Policing is not just state action carried out by police officers. Citizens also police their community boundaries and also police what they consider appropriate behavior by taking action against transgressors. This reality leads to a situations where community boundaries are sharply defined, symbolically reinforced, and where riots and other conflicts come to be related to transgressions of those community boundaries.
Tom Fraser, Political Parties, Paramilitaries, and Murals (2003) (The date on the tape label is incorrectit should be 2003 here and on the Metadata) Since 1994 Tom Fraser and Neil Jarman had been doing research on the sources of Protestant marches and of murals and other symbolism of community in terms of the way this relates to rioting related to marches and also to the violence between Protestant paramilitary groups. The next tape is of a bus tour and lecture by Neil Jarman that highlights a trip through the Lower Shankhill Estates, a Protestant housing project that proclaims itself as the heartland of the Protestant paramilitaries. By giving a slideshow featuring many of the murals from the Lower Shankhill Estates, Fraser provides a fuller history than we can get on a bus tour of where the murals came from, the history of the paramilitary groups, and the nature of intergroup fighting among the paramilitaries. This tape is important in terms of talking about and explaining the importance of community boundaries, the role symbolism and iconography plays in defining the communities, and talking about how these things are important to conflict in Northern Ireland. While the Lower Shankhill Estates are a place where mural art, and rapid changes in the murals to reflect community changes, is most pronounced, Fraser also gives an important presentation
about Portadown. Portadown is a small community southwest of Belfast in which members of the Orange Order repeatedly marched on Sundays through a Catholic neighborhood to their Church at Drumcree. This provoked numerous riots and brought worldwide attention. Fraser claims that it was these confrontation that gave other radical Protestant loyalists in Belfast the idea of using symbols and iconography as a way of marking territory and provoking conflict.
Neil Jarman, Belfast Mural Tour 2002 Jarman is the Director of the Institute for Conflict Studies in Belfast and an anthropologist who has partnered with Dominick Bryan in a study of public symbolis, neighborhood boundaries, and conflict in Belfast and also with Tom Fraser in a study of the symbolism of murals and banners related to murals. Jarman’s perspective is very close to that of Bryan but in this lecture he takes the class on a bus for a tour of neighborhoods, interface areas, and murals in contested areas like the Lower Shankhill Estates (a Protestant housing estate) and the New Lodge neighborhood, a Catholic area. The talk begins on a street corner in Belfast where Jarman explains the nature of interface zones, using the location of his talk as an example. He provides vivid and specific examples of how the reality of an interface zone like this one affects the behaviors of citizens and the patterns of riots that are common. The bus trip through Lower Shankhill estates gives a cramped view of this housing areas but the murals are dramatic and Jarman provides a history of them and of their significance. We also see a large pile of refuse wood and furniture that will be used for the giant bonfires that will be held on July 11 (as described by Bryan).