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Accepted Paper:

Mnemonic and Temporal Performances in the Face of a Changing Northern Ireland  
Brodie Quinn (University of Southern California)

Paper short abstract:

Brexit, secularism, and changing demographics are transforming Northern Irish life. Protestant-Unionists living in the borderlands are interpreting, confronting, and resisting these changes through performances of “pastness” which package memories, reproduce temporalities, and reinforce boundaries.

Paper long abstract:

Today—a centenary since Irish partition, fifty years since the start of the Troubles, and with Brexit finally reaching somewhat of a denouement—the Northern Irish land border is without check-points but metaphorical, symbolical, and allegorical boundaries remain, and notions of religious and national identity are in states of transformation. What it means to remember the past and what this contributes to community cohesion and divisions is widely debated, as people question what it means to be a “Protestant,” “Catholic,” and “Northern Irish.” Drawing on fieldwork with Protestant-Unionist communities in County Armagh, my paper discusses how collective memory and temporalising practices are key to these debates—sociocultural features whereby boundaries of self and other are drawn, and religious and nationalist identities are grounded.

I posit that remembering in Armagh occurs through “mnemonic packaging”: a technique in which multiple time periods and narratives are iconised and packaged together, retold by and to the community in objects, spaces, and discourses, creating the effect of a single symbol of this community, their view of history, and the universe itself—a conflation of time, ethnicity, and theology that re-establishes community boundaries. The spectres of Brexit, secularism, and Catholic-Republicanism are interpreted through the forms of pastness that mnemonic packaging produces, with Protestant-Unionists understanding, confronting, and sometimes resisting these imminent changes through the memories, narratives, and temporalities they elect to consider. My paper discusses these constructs of pastness and examines how borderland Protestant-Unionists are uniting and disuniting in the face of political and religious transformation.

Panel P108a
Transformation, hope and vigilance in borderlands I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -