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Accepted Paper:

Not-the-Troubles: disinterring the marginalised stories of the ordinary and the everyday  
Karen Lane (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

In a city where hegemonic discourse is of conflict and post-conflict, the stories of ordinary lives are pushed to the narratorial margin. In Belfast, a public-storytelling night creates an opportunity for people to negotiate their lifeworlds and create a communitas outwith the divided city.

Paper long abstract:

Belfast, Northern Ireland: A city much written about (academically, literary, journalistically) as a divided city, an arena for ongoing conflict, and as a city dealing in different ways with post-conflict reconciliation. It is important these issues are understood, but the Grand Narratives of conflict and post-conflict, of Catholic versus Protestant, are not necessarily in accord with people's mundane experience. Academic, literary and newsworthy Belfast has drowned out other voices, other stories, those of the everyday lives of people in the city. Their stories dwell on the narratorial margin. What anthropological knowledge is revealed when we disinter the mundane? Ten By Nine is a monthly public-storytelling night in Belfast that showcases true and personal stories, a juxtaposition of quotidian stories - funny, sad, educational - that illustrates people's lifeworlds, a genre of storytelling that challenges the hegemonic discourse and moves these marginalized stories to centre stage. Drawing on ethnographic examples I argue that in retelling Belfast at Ten By Nine, the quotidian opens up a realm for dialogue that does not transcend past (and ongoing) conflict - we do not know necessarily who has been touched by it and how - but it offers a way for people to negotiate their lifeworlds and to create a communitas in the interstices of the Grand Narratives. A space is opened up to share life as lived and for troubles with a small 't' to be aired. Storytelling, an ancient Irish oral culture, becomes a new form of symbolic practice.

Panel P146
Urban margins: contesting hegemonic representations of the city
  Session 1