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By Brian Conway (auth.)

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Additional info for Commemoration and Bloody Sunday: Pathways of Memory

Example text

People may come together around certain symbols but this does not necessarily mean that they share the same interpretations of them Introduction: Actors, Contexts and Temporality 11 and one group’s rallying point is another group’s negative frame of reference. In the Northern Irish context, historical symbolism is employed to articulate claims on state power – for example, historically Orange marches symbolically announced the hegemonic position of unionists within Northern Ireland via regular reminding to nationalists of their previous battle victories over them.

I refer to these human actors involved in creating and propagating commemorative discourses and strategies at the small-group level – what Iwona IrwinZarecki calls the ‘practitioners’ of collective memory18 – as ‘memory choreographers’. Other analogous terms include “students of the past”, “historians of the past”, agents of memory19 or more simply ‘commemorationists’. Memory choreographers are to historical events what ‘reputational entrepreneurs’20 are to historical figures. Republican activists, families of the dead, community leaders, academics, journalists and politicians can all constitute memory choreographers.

Different people had different pathways to involvement – some people were aggrieved about the official memory of the event that dishonoured the victims by holding them to blame for what happened. Others came on board because they identified with and felt connected with a nationalist group identity. Still others became involved in the commemoration because they were recruited into it through their local social networks. Commemoration, then, is the outcome of social engagement – people developing ties with other people – and folding these ties into strong, long-term relationships with frequent interaction28 – to secure various kinds of needed resources from material to ideological ones.

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