Accepted Paper:

Anthropology, governmentality and the peace process in Ireland  


Andrew Finlay (Trinity College, Dublin)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and a variety of community relations initiatives, this paper examines the influence of anthropological work in the development of technologies of government as part of the peace process in Ireland.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is concerned with the contribution of anthropologists and of anthropological work in the development of the peace process in Ireland. It is animated by a concern about the manner in which anthropological ideas of culture, particularly the 'old' idea of culture as the way of life of a distinct people, have been used in the development of technologies of government in the period before and after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in 1998. The paper traces the provenance of the notions of culture and identity implicit in the GFA. While people trained in anthropology have been involved in implementing community relations policy, other disciplines - notably law, history and political science - are found to have been more influential in their conception, though frequent reference is made to anthropological work for legitimation. Paradoxically, the influence of the old anthropological concept of culture is probably a sign of the relative weakness of anthropological influence in government circles. Ultimately though anthropological circumspection in this regard might be preferable to the hasty and vainglorious claims of other academic disciplines.

Panel W050
Studying anthropologists in war and conflict zones: spies and freedom fighters, scholars and advocates