Accepted paper:

Landscape as a stage of violence: Spatial imaginaries in oral narratives from Northern Ireland


Tomoko Sakai (Kobe University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses spatial imaginaries in oral narratives in relation to the construction of collective memory. Examining narrative data from Northern Ireland, the paper argues that stories about violence spread within a community as its location appealed to people’s spatial attachment.

Paper long abstract:

We exchange many stories about what happened to us in our day-to-day interactions, which forms the basis of our perceptions of appropriate social relations, micro politics, and sometimes history. This paper focuses on the spatial setting of those personal, but at the same time political or historical stories, and the work of visual imaginaries in the process of narrative transmission among people sharing spatial basis of their life. It argues that, when the story is set in a place to which one is familiar, it can evoke in the person images of the background landscape and the scene, to leave a vivid impression about the narrated event. The cases examined are stories about political conflicts in the north part of Ireland. Due to its history of frequent and long-lasting conflicts, people in urban areas in Northern Ireland have had great part of their life within a specific range of ethno-politically divided network and residential zone. This has been a factor of the development of conflicted views about history and what constitutes violence. As the mundane landscapes such as street corners and local parks passed by on daily basis were narrated to have turned into a stage of violence, they came to represent both of the seemingly contradictory two marks, the homely and uncanny. With this subtle balance of verisimilitude and unlikeliness, those stories spread and were rumored, in the process of which what was witnessed by other community members fused into one's own memory.

panel WMW10
Listening landscapes, speaking memories