Accepted paper:

The Hunger Strike of 1981: the interaction of offline and online realities in folklore


Richard Allen (Indiana University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will seek to explore the differences between the offline and online versions of a debate about the Hunger Strike of 1981. The paper will focus on one Republican website and try to show both how the internet has shaped the debate and its importance for Folkloristics.

Paper long abstract:

In 2005 a debate erupted concerning the 1981 hunger strike in Northern Ireland, in which one person alleged that six of the ten men who died could have easily been saved. Since then, the debate has raged both offline and online and whilst it has cooled down recently, nothing has been resolved. The internet has been instrumental to the development of this debate and has given people near and far access to both official documents related to the strike and access to community discussions or conferences in which the topic has been discussed. It would not be outrageous to suggest that without the internet, the debate would not look anything like the way it currently does.

This paper seeks then to explore the ways in which the online debate differs from the offline one. It will focus primarily on the debate as it appears on, a popular Irish Republican website, and the ways in which the users engage with both each other and the material related to the debate. At the same time, there will be a discussion about the ways in which the debate has taken place offline and how the internet has been important in not only shaping the offline debate, but also in keeping the debate alive in general. It is hoped that this paper will not only show how the internet was a key to the debate, but also how folklorists need to pay more attention to the way the online and offline interact.

panel Digi001
Real and/in virtual: from on-site to on-line ethnography