Accepted Paper:

Can the trace speak? Counter-forensics and the material legacies of Bloody Sunday (1972)  
Garikoitz Gomez Alfaro (University of Brighton)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the way in which material traces are mobilised as counter-witness in order to disrupt attempts to stabilise and patrimonialise the legacy of Bloody Sunday in Derry/L'Derry, Northern Ireland.

Paper long abstract:

In postconflict societies, traces of the past (and particularly past futures) have the potential to unsettle the linearity underpinning discourses that aim to draw a line between past and present. This is certainly the case in Northern Ireland where material legacies become subject to a complex articulation of contested regimes of visibility, readership and belonging. In Northern Ireland, a number of geographers have looked at the role of commemorative geographies in the continuation of sectarian violence and identity politics (McDowell and Shirlow 2011). More recently, contemporary archaeologists (McAtackney, 2014) have started to look at the temporal and spatial porosity, that is the 'gravitational power' (Gordillo 2013) of certain spaces and objects in order to write biographies of heritage landscapes.

In this paper I want to contribute to this conversation by examining traces that remain from the 70's in the Bogside, an iconic neighbourhood of Derry/Londonderry where the infamous events known as 'Bloody Sunday' (1972) took place. During the last years, attempts at patrimonialising Bloody Sunday have clashed with the opposition of diverse small local groups. The paper will look at how their counter-narratives draw on and gravitate around particular traces (a jacket with bullet holes, a staircase, etc.) in order to highlight how their story matters. My paper is an attempt at making sense of the affective/political implications of the different understandings of trace at stake in a contested changing landscape where certain objects go from reserved, quiet onlookers to compromising witnesses in a history of violence.

Panel P044
Revealing Histories of Violence: The Representational Politics of Trace