Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Click to Expand Gallery Talking Stones: The Politics of Memorialization in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland

View Table of Contents

See Related
History Journals

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Talking Stones

The Politics of Memorialization in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland

Elisabetta Viggiani
Foreword by Hastings Donnan

288 pages, 20 illus., 11 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-407-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2014)

ISBN  978-1-78533-341-5 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (September 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78238-408-3 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Viggiani’s text is a thorough examination of many of the iconic artefacts of a forty-year-long conflict that has shaped the politics and memories of generations of people from all sides of The Troubles. In addition to her text, she has developed an extensive website which more fully examines the quantitative data she has collected… her work will not only add to the compendium of extant work but expand our existing knowledge on memorialization in areas of conflict and recovery.” ·Journal of Anthropological Research

“This is an excellent book that makes a major contribution by presenting the most comprehensive study yet written on the meaning and significance, past and present, of the ubiquitous political memorials that mark the urban terrain of one of the most famously politically divided cities in the world.” · CritCom – Council for European Studies

“Viggiani successfully chronicles both intergroup and intragroup forces and rivalries, while also exploring the makers and receivers of the emplaced narratives produced by multiple actors. The book is a valuable contribution to the anthropology of memory and of materiality, and it is also a timely reminder of the presence and prominence of substate and non-state agents in a world where it is often still assumed that states have a monopoly not only on power but on knowledge.” · Anthropology Review Database

“This is an excellent piece of work, one of the best of its kind. The ethnographic approach, with the actual testimonies, is very well done.” · Jack Santino, Bowling Green State University

“This is an excellent account of the reproduction of collective memory and its associated narratives. It delves into the nature and construction of memory and the related forms of propaganda and myth making therein. The inquiry into the construction of memorialization is vital for any scholar of divided societies, nation-building and community construction. The book is important in that it not only describes the processes of such construction but also pinpoints an analysis of the interpretation of meaning.” · Peter Shirlow, Queen’s University Belfast


If memory was simply about past events, public authorities would never put their ever-shrinking budgets at its service. Rather, memory is actually about the present moment, as Pierre Nora puts it: “Through the past, we venerate above all ourselves.” This book examines how collective memory and material culture are used to support present political and ideological needs in contemporary society. Using the memorialization of the Troubles in contemporary Northern Ireland as a case study, this book investigates how non-state, often proscribed, organizations have filled a societal vacuum in the creation of public memorials. In particular, these groups have sifted through the past to propose “official” collective narratives of national identification, historical legitimation, and moral justifications for violence.

Elisabetta Viggiani participated in numerous research projects carried out by the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast on public displays of identity, political rituals, and symbols in Northern Ireland. She has published in academic journals and co-edited Friends and Foes (2009), two volumes on the themes of friendship and conflict.

Additional images and information available from Elisabetta Viggiani's website:
Subject: Memory Studies Heritage Studies Anthropology (General)
Area: Europe


List of Figures
List of Tables

Foreword by Hastings Donnan

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Memorials as Silent Extras or Scripted Actors?

  • Book Outline

Chapter 1. Collective Memory and the Politics of Memorialisation: a Theoretical Overview

  • Memory in the Social World: Collectiveness versus Individuality
  • The Shaping of Collective Memory: Present versus Past
  • Lieux de Mémoireas Conveyors of Social Memory
  • Politicised Remembering: the Nexus between Memory and Power
    • The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration
  • The Memory Makers and the Projection of Narratives about the Past
  • Methodological Framework
    • Database of Memorials
    • Survey of Local Population
    • Interviews
    • Commemorations

Chapter 2. The Armalite and the Paintbrush: a Brief History of Memorialization of the Troubles in Northern Ireland

  • Commemorating during the Troubles
    • Funerals and Communal Burials
    • Annual Commemorations
  • The Mural Painting Tradition in Northern Ireland
    • The Early Years
    • Armed Struggle and Party-political Murals
    • Post-ceasefire and Peace Process Murals
  • The 1998 Agreement and the ‘Boom’ of Permanent Memorialization
    • Post-Agreement Murals
  • Permanent Memorials
    • Memorials to Paramilitary Combatants
    • Memorials to Civilian Casualties
    • Memorials to Security Forces
    • Memorials in Government Buildings, Party Offices, Workplaces and Churches
    • Commemorative Banners and Memorial Bands
    • Memorial Publications, Commemorative Pamphlets and Oral History Projects
    • Memorial Prizes, Awards and Trophies
  • Post-conflict Commemorations
  • Peace or Cross-community Memorials

Chapter 3. The ‘Landscape of Memorialization’ in Belfast: Spatial and Temporal Reflections

  • ‘New’ Cultural Geography and the Concept of Landscape as ‘Text’
  • Belfast and the Ethnicization of Space
  • The Spatial Dimension of Memorialization
    • Memorials as Territorial Markers
    • Memorials as Aide-Mémoires  
    • Memorials as Sacred Places
  • The Temporal Dimension of Memorialization
    • Memorials: End of the War or Continuation through Different Means?
    • Memorials: still here or never again?
    • Memorials as Identity ‘Crutches’

Chapter 4. The ‘Memory Makers’ and the Projection of Narratives of the Troubles

  • Individual ‘Stories’ versus the Collective ‘History’ of the Troubles: the Power of the Narrative
  • Republican and Loyalist Memorials: the Projection of Opposing Narratives of The Troubles
    • Two Imagined Communities: Creating a Symbolic National Identification
  • Cherry-picking from History: Opposing Versions of a Shared Past
    • Ancestries of Resistance: Manufacturing Genealogies
    • Forgetting to Remember: Social Amnesia and Euphemization
    • Delegitimizing the Enemy: Demonization and Stigmatization
  • Talkative Dead Bodies: the Politics of Commemorations

Chapter 5. The Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden: Constructing a Dominant Republican Narrative

  • The 1998 Agreement and the Prisoners’ ‘Issue’: the Formation of Ex-prisoners’ Groups
    • The Greater Clonard Ex-Prisoners’ Association
  • Enlisting the ‘Unsung Heroes’ in the Republican Narrative: Local History and Memorial Projects
  • The Clonard Martyrs Memorial GardeN
    • Planning Permission and Relationship with Local Authorities
    • Funding, Building Materials and Manpower
  • Construction of a Successful Dominant Narrative: Iconography, Language and Historical Selection
  • Perpetuating Collective Memory: Periodic cCommemorations in Clonard          

Chapter 6. The IRSP/INLA Teach Na Fáilte Memorial Committee: Constructing a Sectional Republican Narrative

  • The IRSP/INLA Teach Na Fáilte Memorial Committee
  • Reclaiming a Place in History for the INLA: the 1981 Hunger Strike
  • Advancing a Sectional Narrative of the Troubles: the Belfast Teach Na Fáilte’s Memorial Programme
    • Unveiling ceremonies
  • Provisional Republican and Republican Socialist Commemorations
  • Opposing the Dominant Republican Narrative: Post-1998 Republican Socialist Rhetoric

Chapter 7. The 1913 UVF and the Myth of the Somme: Constructing a Loyalist ‘Golden Age’

  • ‘Lest We Forget’: Loyalist Landscape of Memorialization
  • ‘From the Battlefields of the Somme to the Barricades of the Shankill’: Borrowing Legitimacy
    • Mainstream Unionism, Republicanism and the Modern UVF Narrative
  • Disraeli Street: an Iconic Cluster of Memory
    • Loyalist Commemorations in Memory of Paramilitary Casualties
  • Changing with the History Tune: the Evolution of the UVF Narrative          

Chapter 8. The UDA Sandy Row Memorial Garden: Attempting a Narrative of Symbolic Accretion

  • ‘You Are now Entering Loyalist Sandy Row’
  • Tiptoeing through History in Search of Illustrious ‘Forefathers’
  • The Sandy Row Memorial Garden: Attempting to Appropriate the Myth of the Somme
    • Lay Out and Iconography
  • Role of Families in the Memorial Process
  • Remembrance Day
  • ‘What the World Needs now Is Love, Sweet love’: 2007 UDA Remembrance Sunday
  • ‘Awakening the Sleeping Giant’: Macro and Micropolitics at Commemorations

Chapter 9. Dissecting Consensus: Memory Receivers and the Narrative’s ‘Hidden Transcript’

  • Paramilitary Groups and Local Communities: a Complex Relationship
  • Coexisting in Ambivalence: Memorials and Local Residents
    • Consultation and ‘Ownership’
    • Cohabiting the Same Space
  • Reasons behind Memorialization
    • Social Memory
    • Territorialization
    • Historical Change
    • Politico-ideological Exercise

Chapter 10. The Memory of the Dead: Seeking Common Ground?

  • At Last, a Common Ground in Northern Ireland?         

Appendix A: List of Memorials
Appendix B: Emblems and Flags


Back to Top