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Illustrate how recent work on violence in Northern Ireland and Cyprus has focussed on ‘the body’.

Illustrate how recent work on violence in Northern Ireland and Cyprus has focussed on ‘the body’.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Doris Gentemann. Originally submitted for B.A. Single Honours Social Anthropology at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr Graham McFarlane in the category of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Doris Gentemann. Originally submitted for B.A. Single Honours Social Anthropology at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr Graham McFarlane in the category of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
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05/13/2014

 
Illustrate how recent work on violence in Northern Ireland and Cyprus has focussed on ‘the body’.
 SAN 2016, Summer 2010The Anthropology of Greece and IrelandClass Essay 2Illustrate how recent work on violencein Northern Ireland and Cyprushas focussed on ‘the body’.
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Illustrate how recent work on violence in Northern Ireland and Cyprus has focussed on ‘the body’.
Keywords Agency; anthropology of the body; feminism; resistance; state power. AbstractThis essay takes its material from the politically contested territories of Cyprus and Northern Ireland, where state power is played out on bodies,but people reclaim agency using those same bodies. The Northern IrishRepublican Prisoners’ Dirty Protest seemed a natural reaction to havingtheir bodies turned inside out by strip searches going into every bodyorifice. Necessarily including menstrual blood, the women prisoners‘protest challenged views of proper female behaviour, forcing a re-definition of feminism. In Cyprus, the state denied the existence of bodiesfrom the 1974 Turkish invasion, thus denying the finality of the island’sseparation. Women reclaimed their agency in demanding their loved onesbe exhumed. The more restrictions are placed, the more important thebody becomes in playing out the narratives of the different sides.Bits of alternatives:Whether, reacting to extremely invasive strip searches, male Republicanprisoners turned their bodies inside out by smearing excrement on cellwalls, or women prisoners redefined feminism since their menstrual bloodtriggered a debate of sexism in prisons and republicanism, or teenagersflash at surveillance cameras, the Northern Irish case shows that statepowers can never be quite sure that their message will not be subverted.The Dirty Protest of male prisoners turned their bodies inside out inreaction to extremely invasive strip searches; the women's menstrualblood triggered a debate on sexist structures of both prisons andnationalism; teenagers in Derry mocked surveillance cameras by flashing.In all three, the Northern Irish case shows ...
IntroductionMichael Herzfeld states that, since national and global focusentered anthropology, there has been a need to study ‘body andperson’; particularly the nation-state grounds its power in ‘theembodied person’ (1995:124)
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.This essay aims to show some links between politics, power and‘the body’, how anthropologists have looked at the symbolism andmeanings attributed to the body by various actors in NorthernIreland and Cyprus, both of them politically contested territories.
1 In a different context in his book 
 A Time of Gifts
, the first part of his tale of walking to Constantinople, Patrick Leigh Fermor shows the reach of the Nazi state into its citizens’ bodies by describing a street scene in 1934 Munich.People there seemed to be overcome by a bodily tic, namely that of the ‘Heil’-salute – presumably, it was too riskynot to raise one’s hand to the Fuhrer, even if, personally, he was nowhere near.
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Illustrate how recent work on violence in Northern Ireland and Cyprus has focussed on ‘the body’.
The material on Northern Ireland focuses mainly on how‘dominatedgroups have used the body to get back at thei‘oppressors’. Claiming back agency also occurs in the Cyprus case,where states used bodies to make a political point, and the peopleaffected by these policies on a personal level took matters in their own hands.Part 1: Northern Irelanda.Prisoners – actors under extreme constraint. Having heard from Allen Feldman himself that he preferred theoryover ethnography
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, I am not surprised to see Richard Jenkinsaccusing Feldman’s
Formations of Violence
of ‘vacuoussophistication’ and “post-modern” ‘non-referential abstruseness andabstraction’, its ‘interpretation of oral testimony [deriving] manifestlyfrom theoretical preconception’ rather than the actorswords or ethnographic context (1992a:234). However, Jenkins and Feldmanseem to agree that British government forces breached human andcivil rights (Feldman 1992:595, Jenkins 1992b:596), playing outpower politics on prisoners’ bodies; ‘the Brits were using our bodiesto break us’, as one Provisional IRA prisoner put it to Feldman
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.Begonia Aretxaga shows how, far from ‘an addendum to violenceperformed on men’s bodies(1995:145), the Armagh womenprisoners’ protest redefined both feminism and nationalism.The prisoners’ campaign ‘was as much or more about achievingrecognition of the legitimacy of their war as it was about demandingthe right to wear their own clothes and of free association’. The
2 We spoke briefly at the end of lunch on the Thursday of the recent ASA Conference in Belfast. Feldman stated thathe no longer presents at American anthropological conferences because the mere ten minutes speakers are allottedfor their presentations are too short and favour ethnography over theory, which he regretted since he preferred togive more theory. It is of course not the point of anthropology to promote an anecdote-telling party piece style of writing. However, what I have so far glimpsed of Feldman’s work seems to be top-heavy with theory, a hyper-sizedrabbit smothering a dwarfed elephant. We then have to read Feldman in spite of his language and see what comesout underneath.3 Cited in Wilson/Donnan 2006:59.
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