Memories of everyday life during a long-lasting conflict: from a case of Belfast, Northern Ireland
Tomoko Sakai (Kobe University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses overturns of the norm regarding ordinary and extraordinary experiences, or the usual and unusual, that arise in memories of daily life under a long-term political conflict, through examining testimonies of people in Belfast working class estates.
Paper long abstract:
Studies of memories of war and conflict have mainly concerned with the kind of experience that changed one's life course instantly and permanently. This is connected to the tendency that violent conflicts are imagined to be located at the opposite pole to the mundane world of daily life. A long-lasting conflict or political disturbance, however, blurs the clear boundary between ordinary and extraordinary experiences, or the usual and unusual. Routine activities for maintaining private and social life cannot be suspended in human life, and a society in decades of political conflict is no exception. This paper looks at the case of the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland. People in working-class estates in Belfast continued their daily activities within violence and high community tensions. As gunfights and bomb explosions took place on street corners in the neighbourhood, people went for work, shopping, did housework or childcare, had social life with friends, neighbours and relatives. Many people went through childhood and adolescence, developed intimate relationships, and experienced marriage and parenting, all in the midst of the conflict. This paper analyses testimonies of such daily life to explore the way of the incursion of violence into private daily life, and the mundane into the sphere of social division and violence. The Long-term experience of daily life alongside violence has constituted a certain type of collective mentality, and also historical consciousness, which is related to people's experience of and reactions to post-conflict political and social transitions.
On the margins of history: keeping a step aside of crisis