VIOLENT STATES OF EXPERIENCE Trauma and Healing in Northern Ireland


zur Erlangung des Magistergrades der Philosophie an der Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften der Universität Wien eingereicht von

Bernhard Botz

Wien, Jänner 2007


I.1. MAPPING THE TOPIC, 3 I.2.1. THE SPACE OF TRAUMA, 5 I.2.2. The Frontlines of Trauma, 7 I.3. THE USE OF TRAUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY, 10 I.4. VICTIMS / PERPETRATORS, 11 I.5. FIELDWORK and METHOD, 12 I.5.1 The Basics in Method, 12 I.5.2. Perception, Experience, and Annoyances, 13 I.5.3. Informal Coversations and the Interview, 17 I.5.4. A few remarks on Titles and Terminology, 18 I.6. NATURE/NURTURE, 18 I.7. CHAPTER OUTLOOK, 22

1.1. THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC BACKGROUND TO TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE. 25 1.1.1. Employment/The Labour Market, 26 1.1.2. Housing, 28 1.1.3. Education, 31 1.2. STATE TERROR, TERRORISM AND THE MEDIA REPRESENTATION OF THE CONFLICT, 33 1.2.1. The Background of Events and the Politics of State Terror, 36 1.2.2. Civil Rights and the Establishment of the Provisional IRA, 38 1.2.3. Internment, Collusion and Nationalist Resistance, 40 1.2.4. Media, 43

2.1. THE GENESIS OF TRAUMA, 49 2.1.1. Hyperarousal, 51 2.1.2. Intrusion, 53 2.1.3. Constriction, 55 2.2. THE DIALECTIC OF TRAUMA, 57 2.3. SOCIAL SUFFERING, 58

3.1. ON COLLECTIVE TRAUMA AND VIOLENCE, 63 3.2. POLITICAL MURALS IN NORTHERN IRELAND, 67 3.2.1 Protestant Mural Painting: The Beginnings, 68 3.2.2. Catholic Mural Painting, 70 The First Phase: Ornate Graffiti And The Gaelic Revival, 71 The Second Phase: Hunger Strike Murals, 72 The Third And Fourth Phase, 77 The Fifth and Sixth Phase, 78 3.2.3. A Look At The Current Situation, 81 3.2.4. Protestant mural: From the 1980s to the present, 84

4.1. HEALING, 94 4.1.1. Anthropological outlooks on Healing, 94 4.1.2. A psychological approach to Healing, 96 4.1.3 Basic Trust, 99 4.2. THE WORK OF NGO’s, 101 4.2.1 An Overview, 101 4.2.2. Truth and Reconciliation, 103 4.2.3 Community Relations Work in urban Northern Ireland, 105 4.2.4. Interface Areas in Belfast, 106 4.2.5. Reflections on Interface Work in West Belfast – The Work of the Cornerstone Community, 107 4.3. HOPES AND EXPECTATIONS, 115

5.1. A SHORT INTRODUCTION, 119 5.2. A PERSONAL CONTEXT, 121 5.3. U2 IN RELATION TO THE WORKINGS OF TRAUMA AND HEALING, 122 5.3.1. Trauma and Healing in U2’s Song-Work, 124 5.4. U2 AND THE NORTHERN IRISH CONFLICT, 129 5.4.1. Sunday Bloody Sunday, 131 5.4.2. Please, Get Up Off Your Knees, 136 5.4.3. The Good Friday Agreement and the Omagh Bombing, 140



The work presented in this thesis is rooted in Social- and Cultural Anthropology and particularly in the anthropology of violence and conflict. Further background was provided by a vast array of literature published on the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, some of it written by anthropologists; the major part of it though is work by researchers of other social sciences from Northern Ireland and outside. I have carried out my fieldwork in Northern Ireland in 2003 and 2005, only a few years after the signing of the “Good Friday Agreement” in 1998, which still posed questions and difficulties that one would not find as such in other parts of Europe. As a former conflict zone, which was defined by paramilitary violence, sectarianism and state terror, Northern Ireland during that time still was a wounded geographical and political region; its scars of thirty years of open conflict are still very fresh and only beginning to heal and to become less visible. Doing fieldwork in such places, even more so as a student, is a very demanding task, both in physical and psychological terms. Being a stranger in a strange land opens a few doors, and sometimes closes even more. Approaching people as a student of anthropology does not facilitate work in Northern Ireland. There is on the one hand a great tradition of ethnography (Sluka 1989 and 2000, Feldman 1991 and 1997, Aretxaga 1997, 2001 and 2004, Jarman 1997 or Bryan 2000), which still is not very well known by interested people, such as community workers active in throughout Northern Ireland; this said, the number of people, who are aware of anthropological work must be considered marginal. On the downside, one faces a legacy of dozens of anthropologists, who have carried out work for various secret services; this on the other hand is very well known to community workers. Working on the issues of violence and traumatization adds to the complexities in addition to the ones mentioned therefore I see my work on Northern Ireland as a long-term project that only begins with the work on this thesis. Despite some limiting factors listed above, there are numerous circumstances that enabled me to carry out my work. A major part of my gratitude goes out to a number of people working with local community projects and NGOs, in administrative offices, who kindly provided me with material and other priceless support: Claire Hackett of the Falls Community Council, Karl 1

Tooher of the Conflict and Trauma Resource Center (Belfast), the friendly staff at the Peace People Office (Belfast), Dympna McGlade of the Community Relations Council, Hilary Hughes and Duan Stokes of Hotpress (Dublin), and of course there is a number of persons that I have met all over, who provided me with useful information or had the time for interesting conversations. None of my work would have been possible without the moral and financial support of my parents, who have always stood behind me. A huge ammount of gratitude goes out to them. This work is dedicated to them. Big thanks go out to my friends and colleagues in Vienna, who engaged me in fruitful discussions around my work and gave me support and strength to finish it: Katja Seidel, Gregor Jakob, Andrea Weiss, Marta Olejnik and all the participants at our workshop at the first MASN conference in Ottenstein in 2005. An enormous thank you goes out to Anna Streissler, who spontaneously agreed to read the final script of this thesis, and provided me with extra corrections and commentary. Your efforts are truly appreciated! I fear I am short for words that could ever measure the support and human warmth that I have received from my teacher Ulrike Davis-Sulikowski. She is the one, who welcomed me with open arms and provided me with priceless support. Her enormous patience, wit and anthropological virtuosity have brought me to write this thesis.



“…I looked out and there was a car pulled up in front of us and there were men getting out with guns. And just looking at it, I knew it was us they wanted…(…) I remember saying, “We’re not going to get out of this!” There were only two doors in the car and we were trapped. I looked at Margaret and I says: “What are we going to do?” And Margaret says, “Lie down, lie down!” I can’t describe the terror that went through me. It was terrifying. The thoughts that came into my mind was that I’m too young to die. I was just frozen on the spot…(….) They riddled the car with a sub-machine-gun. It seemed like an eternity, I heard the shooting. (…) And then I felt pain, like a burning sensation. And I remember as each bullet hit me, it lifted me off the seat….” (Catholic Woman, North Belfast in Smyth/Fay 2000:10)

“…and after that we thought that we’d have a commemoration of John. And we thought we’d have a prayer service in the house, a month after he was killed. And we got his wife up here, his widow to talk about this you know. When the meeting was going on she was sitting just where about where I am sitting. I was down here and we were talking about this and how we’d organize it and obviously it was a very emotional sort of a meeting. But there was a ring at the door, and I went out. I went out to the door, and there were two children standing in the door. And they said to me, “Do you have a gold-fish-bowl?” and I said, “No we don’t”. I said, “What do you want with a gold fish bowl?” They said (laughs), “For a goldfish!” You know, well I mean, the logic of that (laughs again). We were at a funeral (laughs), but however, we didn’t have a goldfish bowl, but we got them an old anneal casserole dish. And off they went. And I thought to myself, what is the Lord saying here? At one side of the house we are discussing this commemoration for this poor man who has been killed with his widow. And on the other side of the house we are giving these two kids a goldfish bowl! So that, even in the midst of mayhem and murder, goldfish are important to some children…” (Tom Hannon, Catholic Community Worker, West Belfast)

The excerpts above represent two moments of experience from the Troubles in Northern Ireland. They lie at opposite ends form each other, and yet they are closely interlinked. One of them describes a situation of sheer terror, fear of death and the paralysing effect of traumatic experience; the second excerpt captures a moment of peace and sanity in the midst of violent conflict. Finally, they both encapsulate what will be the topic of this thesis, namely traumatic experience of violence and healing in and after the 30 years of violent conflict. Northern Ireland’s Troubles have been defined by state sponsored violence, state directed doorstep killings carried out by loyalist paramilitaries in collusion with army and police forces, permanent surveillance of 3

communities and the wilful production of ghetto-like situations in West Belfast. Added to this are mass arrests and the introduction of “internment without trial” against Catholics carried out by security forces, grave discrimination in social welfare, housing, the labour market and education for the Catholic-Nationalist minority of the province, Republican paramilitary violence, killings and kidnappings, and terrorism against the British government and state. In Northern Ireland the state created what Taussig defined as “Culture of Terror” and “Space of Death” (Taussig 1987), a culture and a space defined by repression, fear, loss, suffering, traumatic experience and socio economic deprivation. “The space of death”, writes Taussig, “is important in the creation of meaning and consciousness, nowhere more so in societies where torture is endemic and where the culture of terror flourishes” (Taussig 1987:4). The state enters communities through permanent surveillance and infiltrates the community’s and individual’s consciousness creating a state of permanent fear. This condition of fear “divides communities through suspicion and apprehension, not only of strangers, but of each other. Fear thrives on ambiguities. Rumours of death lists and denunciation, gossip, and innuendos create a climate of suspicion” (Green in Nordstrom/Robben 1995:105). The state not only enters on a psychological level, but also on a physical one, by smashing windows and front doors, by penetrating private space, the “Sanctuary” (Feldman 1991:36) as a place outside of violence, raiding houses and arresting people, even on a random level, leaving behind shattered lives and silence. In short, what was inflicted upon the residents of certain communities in Northern Ireland was a prolonged state of traumatization through the permanent presence and intrusion of the state in people’s livelihoods on both individual and collective levels. Thus the ultimate goal of this thesis will be to identify traumatic experience in a violent conflict, what it is and what it does to the human condition. It will shed light on people’s ways of dealing with experienced violence both in a private (individual) and public (collective) discourse, and subsequently identify expressions of the ongoing healing process in and after the time span which is commonly termed the Troubles. In order to do so I will give the reader an account of a number of historical events and developments that I consider crucial for the understanding of the manifestation of trauma in Northern Ireland. I will try to present a comprehensive and inclusive approach to the topic. The ideas and suggestions within can help to find further approaches to deal with the conflict and its aftermath. However, my approach will not present a detailed overview of events, or offer a definite solution for the Northern Irish conflict. This is impossible, and not the job of


anthropologists. Much rather I will try to identify and describe channels of experience that transport the manifestations of trauma and healing in and after the conflict. In these descriptions I intend to give a voice to people’s stories of experienced violence, regardless of their ethnic background. These stories are meant to express the individual and collective dilemmas that come with the experience of violence. This approach should make clear that trauma in an individual person must always be understood as a fluid reciprocal socio cultural process between the embodiment of personal experience and the embodiment on a larger collective community level. Both levels influence and nurture each other. Although each individual’s traumatic experience differs from another person’s it is also understood that single patters of experience among individuals are also shared on a broader social level. This indeed is a crucial point in order to be able to grasp the phenomenon of traumatic experience: Each person’s experience of violence is unique. People differ in their associations with the conflict and with violence in general. And as there is a widely shared understanding of what is an acceptable level of violence and what is not, each individual’s experience of violence, be it traumatic or not, meets a different background of embodied experiences in a social and cultural context. Even if a person is struck by the sudden impact of violence, the way in which this person will deal with the aftermath of this experience is embedded in an individual context. It consists of “(human) motivation” that “has to be understood as the interaction between events and things in the social world and interpretation of those events and things in people’s psyches” (Strauss in D’Andrade/Strauss 1992:1). But what is traumatic experience? How do we define it? How do we speak the unspeakable? Who gets traumatized? Only the victims, or also the perpetrators? How do we define the term victim and victimization in the context of the conflict in Northern Ireland? And finally, how do individuals and collectives express themselves in the aftermath of trauma? All these questions, and my subsequent outlines in presenting concepts the anthropology of violence and conflict offers for possible answers, will find their way into this work.

By trauma one commonly understands sudden experiences of a deep psychological impact on an individual level and his or her lively- and construction of personhood. In her book “Trauma and


Recovery” Judith Lewis Herman (1992) states the following as a short definition for what traumatic experience implies for a person:
“Psychological trauma is an affliction of the powerless. At the moment of trauma, the victim is rendered helpless by overwhelming force. When the force is that of nature, we speak of disasters. When the force is that of other human beings, we speak of atrocities. Traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary system of care that give people a sense of control, connection and meaning” (Herman 1992/1997:33).

Following the internment of her husband and his subsequent imprisonment in Belfast’s Crumlin Road prison, this sense of disconnection and numbness was impressively described by a West Belfast woman in an interview I found in a yet unpublished archive of the Falls Community Centre:
“The first six months, it was almost like a wake, or a death – there’s no body – you were going through it like in a vacuum. It’s almost as hard on the outside, as it is inside (referring to her interned husband in prison). The prisoner’s idea of time and space all disappeared” (Duchàs archive Belfast April 2005).

For this woman the world was turned upside down, her daily routine was shattered. What she was facing was the aftermath of traumatic experience, her very own “tomorrow of violence” (Nordstrom in Whitehead 2004) and the task of remaking her everyday. It is widely acknowledged among anthropologists and psychologists alike (Taussig 1987; Feldman 1991; Herman 2001 (1992); Daniel 1996; Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997; Green 1999, Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000; Nordstrom 2004/a) that (large-scale) violence reshapes individuals and cultural formations. Also, it “reconfigures its victims and the social milieu that hosts them” (Nordstrom in Whitehead 2004/b:226). As it is outlined it Herman’s citation from above violence renders systems of meanings meaningless for the victim; it “unmakes the world” (Scarry 1985) as we know it. It produces suffering and pain (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997) in which habits, routines and individual and public “rationalities” may get fundamentally reshaped. “Traumatic events are extraordinary” writes Herman “not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life” (Herman 2001:33). Suárez-Orozco and Robben have defined four crucial points that make clear the scale on which traumatic experience can influence the human condition. They outline the following:
“First, large scale violence takes place in complex and over-determined contexts which intertwine psychic, social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions. Secondly, collective violence cannot be reduced to a single level of analysis because it targets the body, the psyche, as well as the socio-cultural. Thirdly the


understanding of trauma cannot be restricted to the intra-psychic process of the sufferer because it involves highly relevant social and cultural processes. Fourthly, the consequences of massive trauma afflict not only individuals but also social groups and cultural formations” (Suárez-Orozco/Robben 2000:1)

What Suárez-Orozco and Robben offer in these four points is a rather dramatic acknowledgement of the fact that traumatic experience of violence must be considered multifacetted or multi-dimensional. These include social, political, economic and cultural factors that a human being depends on in his/her everyday life for the maintenance of a daily routine. If this setting is thoroughly shattered, e.g. by violent experience, it targets and reshapes the human condition on a broad level. How the sufferer will recover from a post traumatic condition will not only be dependent on the impact of the experience itself, but also on how both the closer and wider social environment will act towards the victim. Thus the healing process of traumatised persons happens both in an individual context as well as in a broader public context of actions. If traumatic experience is an “extraordinary” event, as Herman writes, how extraordinary is it then in the context of a conflict zone? If violence is a constant companion in a war zone, how overwhelmingly deep then must be the impact of traumatic experience on individuals and whole communities? When it becomes a regular phenomenon in a place that is constantly defined and redefined by the permanent intrusion of violence and suffering into the livelihoods of tens of thousands of residents of a province and of cities like Belfast or Derry/Londonderry?

I.2.2. The Frontlines of Trauma
As I am writing, my television, running next to my working desk, has been on for the last few hours, providing Europe and the rest of the world with live pictures from the evictions of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. The cameras of various news networks are showing screaming settlers crouched on the floors of a synagogue in the largest Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim. The pictures that are flickering on television show a radicalised situation, heated up protesters, screaming settlers, who do everything they can to delay the Israeli security forces carrying them out and putting them on buses, which will bring them out of the Gaza strip and to Israel were some of them face an uncertain future. On the roof of another synagogue in Kfar Darom a number of younger protesters throw stones, paint bombs and eggs on police forces trying to evacuate them off the roof.


As I find myself struck by the live pictures from Gaza, the news commentators describe the situation as more or less peaceful and the protests as non-violent. Whereas the situation could be much more radical in physical terms, it is highly in question if in psychological terms the situation for both radical settlers and security forces could be any more dense than the pictures show.

Pl. 1: City Wall, Derry 2003. Surveillance cameras overlooking the area next to a paint-bombed tower of a local police station.

The images, repeating themselves in a loop over and over again, even if they show different places every time the camera switches, not only depict radicalised settlers being out of their minds because they are facing evictions of their homes situated in an area of illegal settlements. They also show traumatized people on both sides, living through the everyday hell of violence and terror carried out by a state on the one side and by various terrorist organizations campaigning against a state on the other. The pictures show people who have been living all or most of their lives in an area that has been a frontline for the biggest part of the twentieth century. Living on such frontlines of a war zone is changing the very perception of things It is blurring the lines between war and peace, it creates double standards and ambiguities. It shatters an individual’s notion of justice, and it produces and endless number of stories about living in such areas, deprived of a peaceful and secure everyday. These frontline areas of conflict zones are not limited to a single place or space within an area or constituted by only a single demarcation line that divides conflicting parties. They are interface areas between manifold human livelihoods. Thus frontlines must be understood as a fluid category, constantly redefined by the everyday 8

happenings in a conflict. Such Interfaces play a crucial role for the experience of violence in Northern Ireland. They are frontlines of fear and suffering; they become spaces intrinsic of violence. Thus interfaces and frontlines become spaces of trauma, within which remembering for individual and collective memories manifests. They become places of remembering, in which commemoration and mourning take place. Thus they are constantly recontested and redefined in their meanings for people in both an individual and a collective context (Nordstrom 2004/a). As mentioned, living on the frontlines of a conflict zone also brings fear. People, who are constantly living in a state of emergency produced by violence, are permanently exposed to fear, be it the fear of loss of a relative or of their own life, the fear of repression or the pressure of an uncertain everyday. People may be subjected to long term violence, shifting situations, where paramilitary ceasefires are being introduced for the duration of Christmas holidays, and taken back on the 2nd day of the New Year; it is situations like these that keep people hostage to the terror of a never ending state of war that they become a permanent part of, no matter if they get physically harmed or not. It is on the frontlines of a conflict zone where violence becomes intrinsic, and inherent to a place and a community of people. And it is these circumstances that cause long-term suffering, producing senselessness and a feeling that there is no clear beginning and no end to war and violence. Carolyn Nordstrom is one of the major researchers, who have picked up on the absurdity and difficulty to grasp realities of violence happening in permanent conflict zones on many occasions. Talking about her fieldwork experience in Mozambique she mentions:
“In considering the many towns like Munapeo I observed during my year and a half of fieldwork in Mozambique, I found that understanding the war does not rest on the fact that the war begins to make any more sense as time goes on but that, as Mozambicans showed me, we begin to accept the existence of senselessness” (Nordstrom in Nordstrom/Robben 1995:131/132)

During my fieldwork in Northern Ireland, particularly Belfast, I came across a yet unpublished interview archive of the Falls Community Centre. Among the many interviews was the story of a local resident describing the moment, when her house was raided by a patrol of British Army soldiers, one of them not much older than eighteen or nineteen years. When they entered her home, she offered them a cup of coffee, trying to do her bit on being sarcastic about the situation. When the soldiers were finished making a mess out of her place, one of them remarked: “Lady, this is the cleanest house I’ve ever raided. And by the way, yes, we would like to


get a cup of coffee now” (personal field notes April 2005). Only reading and hearing this on tape left me struck and perplexed. Finally, frontlines run through the strangest and seemingly most uncommon of places (Nordstrom 2004/a). In Northern Ireland the frontlines of the conflict ran, and at times still run, along streets and interface areas, through communities, backyards, backrooms in pubs and, as the example from above shows, sometimes even through living rooms; they also run through families, dividing relatives and friends. And the frontlines of the conflict even run through schools and classrooms, bringing out the worst in parents, who deny other children the right to attend their school.

What now makes the examination of trauma and the use of the very term useful and legitimate for an anthropological discussion? Trauma, as it will be treated within this thesis, is considered to be a valid and indeed common experience in relation to the phenomena of violence and conflict. It must be evident that no generalization about the traumatization of individuals or collectives affected by violence can be made, nor should be. Not every person, either victim or perpetrator, or both, is readily traumatized by the impact of violence and conflict and the experience involved. At the same, as Cairns indicates (Cairns 1996), there is no clear line where and when trauma constitutes itself as such for a person, meaning there is not always consciousness of the term and the phenomena it indicates. In regard to Northern Ireland this is not necessarily the case, as the term as such is widely used among community workers, NGOs and human rights organizations, which appropriate the term within a set of conscious and reflected discourses. These operate close to the various scientific discussions around the term, and moreover are not limited to a local Northern Irish level, but can be understood in reciprocal flux that includes conflict zones such as South Africa, Palestine or Latin America. In this sense trauma, as used by locals rids itself of the suspicion of being caught in the trap of ethnocentrism. Since there is no clear distinction where trauma begins and where it ends, and who is effected more, or less, by it, we may consider the very concept of trauma as something in limbo. As Parkin remarks in regard to the terms “evil” and “sorcery” (Parkin 1995) that although evil might 10

be understood in relation to certain themes and topics such as “human suffering” and “human existential predicaments” he regards evil as “essentially contested concept” (Parkin 1995:12). Evil manifests not only as a moral category, but also in a physical and metaphysical sense. In addition to that Parkin sees these categories shifting and changing in different contexts and societies (Parkin 1985:15). Within this outline he most importantly argues that indeed because evil is not a clearly defined and fixed term, it is possible and good to work with within anthropology (Parkin 1985:23). Similarly trauma is a fuzzy and fluid category, rather than a fixed or static one. Thus, following Parkin, because it is vague, but ultimately descriptive, it is good to include it in anthropology, and particularly in the anthropology of violence and conflict. In addition the use for anthology to work with trauma and regard it as a valid concept worth examining lies also in the fact that it brings to the fore old anthropological traditions that stem back to the times of Boas, and thus familiar to anthropology. I will outline this argument closer a little later in this introduction.

In this section I want to discuss a problematic that is inherent to most ethnographies within the anthropology of violence and conflict. This is the question around the problematic of victims and perpetrators in a given conflict. During the preparation for my chapter on individual suffering (chapter 2), I greatly struggled with the selection of interview excerpts. I was determined to guarantee a fair representation of both sides in the Northern Irish conflict. For this I was seeking to include voices from both the Catholic and the Protestant side. In the course of writing however I found myself trapped within the boundaries of the chapter, which allowed only the inclusion of a certain number of excerpts. Thus I was bound to a certain frame. This frame very clearly focused on the victims of the Northern Irish conflict. Whereas this very term is in itself not clearly defined or a fixed category, I had to follow a general outline of the term and its implications. Many “victims” in the conflict do not necessarily see themselves as such. Still, there is a general tradition within the anthropology of violence conflict to focus on the side that represents the majority of victims. In a Northern Irish context this concerns a Catholic minority, which greatly suffered from violence that was to a significant part imposed by the Protestant majority of the province. This said I do recognize victims and perpetrators on both 11

sides of the divide. Also, as Nordstrom (1997) has outlined, the very categories of victims and perpetrators are fluid, as people enmested in violent conflict seldom inhibit only one role in a given scenario.

I carried out the major part of my fieldwork in Belfast, over the period of four trips between August 2003 and June 2005. Whereas the first two trips also took me to Derry/Londonderry and Armagh, I consciously limited my field for the third and the fourth visit to Belfast due to time constraints. The two latter visits had the purpose of contacting various organizations, which have been carrying out work with traumatised victims of the conflict in Belfast.

I.5.1 The Basics in Method
My main fieldwork method was participant observation. This included all kinds of activities. Generally I tried to get familiar with the places I was carrying out my fieldwork in. This happened by walking long distances tthrough various Catholic and Protestant areas and finding out about organizations and isntitutions and their geographical locations in order to safe me the use of a map for subsequent trips. The greatest part of my ethnographic material, with the exception of my photographic work, can be described as informal material. This again includes notes on dozens upon dozens of informal conversations I had with an array of people throughout the time of my stays in Northern Ireland. Such conversations are often the only appropriate way to approach people living in a former conflict zone. I was able to lead only one formal, structured interview during my fieldwork; I will describe it later in this section. I also carried out work in libraries and archives, namely the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, as well as in the Armagh Public Library in Armagh City. In addition to that I had the opportunity to access the Duchas archive of the Falls Community Council for a number of times. The archive consists of a yet unpublished collection of interviews with residents of West Belfast. The interviews I was able to read and listen to gave me valuable insights into local interview work and provided my with lots of ideas and help for my own work. The material I collected throughout my fieldwork influenced the questions that were developed in the course of the work on this thesis, and has thus also ultimately influenced the selection and usage of literature. 12

I.5.2. Perception, Experience and Annoyances
I spent most of September 2001 in Ireland, and apart from the tragic events that happened across the Atlantic Ocean in New York City on the 11th day of that month, it was also the time of heavy turmoil and riots in the Ardoyne area of West Belfast. The clashes between Protestant and Catholic parents had already been making the news around the world the weeks and months before. They peaked in early September, and the happenings from the North, only about 170 km away, made the news on Irish radio as if these were events happening in the Gaza strip or a war torn province in Indonesia. In short, they seemed to be very far away, not being part of a place like Ireland. When I finally made my first trip up to Northern Ireland in August 2003, this notion of the North as a place a apart from the Republic conveyed to me both through observing the political discourses and through countless conversations with people in both parts of Ireland. Before this first trip there had been a long time of decision making and I finally decided let my interest in Ireland and the anthropology of violence and conflict determine my regional field and my subsequent field research. What followed for me was a period of intensive reading on the conflict, among it the work of anthropologists such as Jeffrey Sluka (Sluka 1989, 1995, 2000), Allen Feldman (Feldman 1991, 1997), the late Begoña Aretxaga (Aretxaga 1997, 2001), Neil Jarman (Jarman 1997) and Dominic Bryan (Bryan 2000). Especially the works of Sluka, Feldman and Aretxaga made me sensitive for the problematics of moving in a field that is characterised by years of violent conflict. As I learned about the basic rules of doing fieldwork in courses at University and read my way through various guides how to do fieldwork (Bernard 1988/2002; Corbetta 2003; Girtler 2001; Lueger 2000; Yates 2004) it was the methods of Sluka, Feldman and Aretxaga that prepared me most adequately way for what I would be experiencing on my trips to Northern Ireland and particularly Belfast. Doing fieldwork in dangerous places requires an extra amount of caution that is necessary to preserve the researcher from unexpected events. Some readers may now ask, wether Belfast still is such a dangerous place. At the time Sluka and Feldman did their fieldwork in Belfast, both in the early 1980s and early 1990s, things were of course a lot different from what they in the early 21st century. It is a fact that since the declaration of paramilitary ceasefires in 1994 the overall dense situation in Northern Ireland has calmed down very significantly, and has again done so since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. By 2003 Northern Ireland’s tourist board had started massive campaigns to draw visitors to the province, and numerous travel guides nowadays recommend visiting places throughout the North and praise Belfast as an even more vibrant and awakening place than Dublin only a few years before. Going there as a 13

tourist will not pose a danger to one’s personal safety; this is also due to the fact that tourists are not recognized by Belfast residents as politicised subjects moving through their city. Going to Belfast as an anthropologist of course is quite different from the average tourist trip. It opens up a wide field of relative dangers and grave possible misunderstandings between the researcher and his “field”. When I first boarded the bus from Dublin to Belfast, and finally arrived there, all sorts of images crossed my mind. I was mostly thinking of the descriptions of Allen Feldman’s “Formations of Violence” (Feldman 1991); it was the first work of an anthropologist I had read on Northern Ireland, and reading about doorstep killings, “internment”, “dirty protest” and hunger strikes had turned my stomach upside down at first. Somehow I had internalised what Feldman had been describing and what Sluka had written in his 1995 essay “Reflections on managing danger in fieldwork” (Sluka in Nordstrom/Robben 1995). Which had the effect that from the moment I was leaving the bus, walking through Europa Station’s big hall (about which I had previously read in several travel guides that due to the fear of bombings it still lacked luggage storing facilities), I let my physical and mental senses reach out in every direction, trying to gather as much information as quickly as possible about the area I was moving through. This might sound paranoid and highly exaggerated to most readers. But being in a place I had read so much about, and knowing about the dangers from the near past, and still experiencing police and army presence throughout the city, made me cautious and think twice about the way I entered my field. And to speak with Jeffrey Sluka’s words “one need not be paranoid about the dangers involved in doing research in violent social contexts; but a good dose of realistic appreciation goes a long way. And, all in all, it is no doubt better to be a bit paranoid about such things than it is to be a bit complacent about them” (Sluka in Nordstrom/Robben 1995:289/90). The major thing I was mostly cautious about was not to disguise who I was and what I was doing, an important advice Sluka (1989, 1995) had provided. I always tried to be as open and straightforwardly honest with people as possible, no matter whom I was talking to. I tried not to compromise on my outward appearance during my first trip in August 2003. As I learned about different codes of clothing between Catholics and Protestants and certain colors invloving this, I became more conscious of clothing codes during my subsequent trips and thus adapted to various differences and possible obstacles that might have stemmed from the way of clothing or my general appearance. The seeming odds and specifications in clothing were brought to me not only through photographs and litertaure, but also through stories from locals, who told me of


tourists, who got beaten up in Protestant pubs outside the city centre, because they had been wearing green t-shirt, green being a classic Catholic/Nationalist colour. Apart from such circumstances I tried to adjust my clothing to that of a young person in any European city; this would still make me recognizable as an outsider, but at least I couldn’t be identified as a resident of a particular country in Europe. Other kinds difficult situations and annoyances I tried to meet as calmly and relaxed as possible. Especially during my first two trips in 2003 I photographed a lot, mostly murals, both Republican and Loyalist ones. This was fine for people as long as I didn’t intentionally include them in my pictures. Photographing people would most certainly have identified me as an intruder, who might have been working for the police, army or a secret service. Hence I sought avoid everything possible image that could have rendered me as such. There was a reason for this precaution. During the years of conflict, and ever since, anthropologists had had a rather bad reputation in Northern Ireland, due to the fact that thousands of anthropologists had been working undercover throughout Northern Ireland for various secret service agencies. Indeed this had made people reluctant to work with anthropologists in general, a problem to which both Sluka and Feldman refer to. The biggest annoyance I had to face to during my fieldwork in Belfast were mostly due to the presence of the British Army and heavily armed police forces. I had a police helicopter following me around Belfast twice, once after I had photographed the upper levels of Divis Tower, the remainder of what had been Divis Flats where Jeffrey Sluka had been carrying out his fieldwork. The upper levels of the tower have been occupied by the army since the early 1980s when it had raided the IRSP’s (Irish Republican Socialist Party) offices there. The second time a helicopter followed me when I entered in Ardoyne area; I had also been taking photographs on this trip, mostly murals, prison facilities and an army post a few hundred meters from the spot I was taking the picture from. Photographing the helicopter certainly was a foolish act in regard to my work. I refrained however from photographing so called “crime stoppers”, armoured Landrover Defender Police vehicles, since I could sense that this kind of behaviour was not appropriate. In general I refrained from any kind of confrontation with local police forces, although this did not save mefrom subtle but startling harassment from them. During a walk on South Belfast’s Lisburn Road I was slowly overtaken by a police patrol in low gear with an officer sitting in the opendoored back of the “Crime Stopper”. He was staring me down with cold eyes as if I had just committed a serious offence, or at least was more than unwelcome on his part. Getting to know people and organizations who where willing to share their experiences with me was the main goal during my trips in April and June 2005. This, most certainly, was the hardest 15

part of my fieldwork; I had to approach people and organizations with my request of conducting interviews. The first step I undertook was that I contacted various organizations via e-mail about a week before I travelled to Belfast. I did not receive any replies at first. Arriving in Belfast I decided to make my way to the offices of those organizations I had contacted; people’s feelings seemed to be mixed at first, only one organization however turned down my request right away by telling me they weren’t working with anthropologists. Others were very friendly and welcoming right away, and the person who I conducted my only interview with, even apologised for not answering my e-mail. All of those who were willing to listen to my request also pointed out to me the apprehensions people might have towards me, being an outsider and a non permanent resident, being a rather young anthropology student, having a strange, Irish-sounding accent, which they couldn’t categorize clearly. The most important point though was that people were in general reluctant to talk to social researchers; through most of the Troubles people had been experiencing research on or about them, and in most people’s opinion only a very small portion of published research findings really mirrored their concerns and effectively helped them to ameliorate their situation. Also, a lot of research had been initialised by government bodies, police or the army, towards which most working class residents did not have any confidence at all. Claire Hackett from the Falls Community Council, with whom I had established a contact during my first visit in Belfast had pointed out this general reluctance to me, and she added the best way to avoid this danger to any fieldwork was to listen to people and find out which topic of research might be interesting to them, and might give them something they could draw from in their daily routines. I hope I followed this advice in the best possible way. From the variety of organizations I contacted, I maintained closer contact with a handful of people throughout the following weeks and months until my final trip in June 2005. Tom Hannon, a former director of the Cornerstone Community had already agreed on an interview with me in April, and I gladly took the opportunity to conduct the interview in early June. The outcome was a remarkable conversation, of which various excerpts will be presented throughout this thesis. Despite all my efforts I failed to establish interview contacts with other organizations by the time of my second trip, among them were the Peace People and the Conflict and Trauma Resource Centre (CTRC) in Belfast. I still hope to establish these contacts in the course of my future trips.


I.5.3. Informal Conversations and the Interview
Since I knew from the beginning of my fieldwork that it would be hard to engage in formal interviews, I started to write down and collect snippets from informal conversations with dozens of people from very early on in my research. These consisted mostly of stories of particular experiences during the conflict people were telling me when they heard about the topic of my research and a conversation evolved. After a certain time I found out that there was hardly anybody who did not have any link to the conflict in some way, either by having a close relative or friend who had suffered from violence or by being part of an organization linked to one of the two sides. A few additional words now concerning the interview situation. Already weeks and moths before my third trip to Northern Ireland in April 2005 I had started to work on questions that would circle best around the main questions of my topic. Still, even in April I approached the situation with an unfixed set of questions, since I wanted to first talk to people to get a feeling for their needs, and the questions involved. The final set of questions was only worked out in the days before the interview I conducted in early June 2005. For visits at a community house located on Springfield Road in April and June I decided to walk there instead of talking a taxi or a bus line. In anyway it was far better to walk, which was save enough during daytime, and furthermore allowed me to get a feeling for the areas I was walking through, which I had last visited during my first two trips in 2003. The interview itself was conducted in a calm and relaxed atmosphere in the living room of the community house. My contact had been immensely supportive throughout my two stays in Belfast, and was very open and welcoming towards my work. This also proofed to be true during the actual conversation. This established a certain kind of intimacy right away and contributed greatly to the overall relaxed atmosphere. The interview was done in the early afternoon hours, a time of day in which around life out on the street was rather quiet, and recorded digitally. The only notable disturbance during the interview was two “crime-stopper” vehicles passing the community house. As I found out later when listening to the recorded conversation, in both moments when the vehicles passed the building a significant buzzing on the recording was clearly audible. Whatever this caused this interference, whether it were devices the police was using, or not, whether our conversation was being surveilled, I will never find out. It certainly did not


influence the work presented in this thesis, and most importantly I hope it did not jeopardize my interview partner.

I.5.4. A few remarks on Titles and Terminology
Lastly, I want to add three remarks that I consider important outlining for background information of this thesis. The first remark concerns the chapter titles. I have chosen to name each chapter after a song-lyric of the Irish rock group U2. U2’s work has sparked my initial interest in the Northern Irish conflict and their music accompanied me while writing this thesis. I have dedicated the last chapter to the work of the band in relation to the topic that will be discussed in the following. Each lyric or title will loosely refer to the content of the respective chapter. The second remark refers to the spellings of subjects and objects within the work. In the anthropological and other literature on Northern Ireland the spelling for terms like “republican” or “protestant” changes between the use of capital and non-capital beginnings. I have chosen to spell the beginning of many such words in capital letters, since I believe that these terms carry with them categories and histories, which are decisive for the understanding of the conflict. My third remark concerns the use of personal names within my thesis. I have not used any of the original names stated in the various interviews. There is a certain code of ethnics that bound me to keep people anonymous, where I was not personally authorized to do otherwise. Also, I have done so, because even if the interviewed persons have agreed that their names were used in the original material, I do not want to abuse that liberty for my own work.

“If you ever get close to a human, and human behaviour, be ready to get confused” (Bjork Gudmundsdottir/Nellee Hooper 1993:1)

The topic that will be discussed in the course of this thesis uses theories and arguments from an array of theoretical backgrounds. This allows me to look at one distinct problematic from a variety of angles. The discussion around traumatization on conjunction with the conflict in 18

Northern Ireland will feature arguments not only from classic social and cultural anthropology, but will also integrate approaches from psychological and cognitive anthropology, which are closely interlinked with natural and medical sciences, such as neurology. This approach confronts, as one or the other reader may have guessed, a very old and hard fought debate between the social and the natural sciences. It is commonly referred to as the “nature/nurture” debate, in which an increasing number of anthropologists find themselves caught in, and which is described as the “greatest controversy” in anthropology in recent times, fuelling heated debates and often causing an ”unproductive situation” (Whitehouse 2001:1). Numerous publications located between anthropology, psychology and human medicine have acknowledged this very debate as a central or even the first and foremost point of their introductory notes. Harvey Whitehouse argues in the introduction to his 2001 edited volume “The debated mind” that
“Social scientists are notoriously scornful of the naïve reductionism of socio-biological and psychological perspectives on culture while those working in the fields of biology and cognitive science have often been exasperated at the reluctance of social/cultural theorists to recognize the explanatory power and relevance of naturalistic models in the study of human behaviour” (Whitehouse 2001:1).

Laban Hinton in citing Lazarus refers to the same debate in relation to the study of emotions:
“Biological scientists, and those whose interests center on natural selection and the evolution of species, tend to emphasize species universals in the emotion process, often to the exclusion of variability; in contrast, social scientists and those whose interests center on ontogenesis and learning tend to emphasize the role of society and culture in shaping the emotion process. How can be reconcile biological universals in emotion with sociocultural sources of variability” (Lazarus 1991:35 cited in Laban-Hinton 1999:1).

Another, probably the most prominent sub point surrounding the nature/nurture discussion is the debate to which extent genes influence have a distinct, traceable influence on human, and with that, social behaviour. Indeed the situation produced by this staunchly fought debate has left a great number of researchers startled, when both sides claimed and postulated to grasp best, what makes human beings tick. For a long time anthropologists, mostly in the US, have been unwavered to swim against this tide. And as the agreement to disagree sometimes seems to be celebrated in a most passionate way, the actual goal towards what we all try to explain sometimes slips in the background and gets lost in the turmoil of arguments. For this Christina Toren provides an 19

interesting example in the already mentioned volume edited by Whitehouse (Toren In Whitehouse 2001:155 pp.), where she states that “it makes little sense to argue my case in terms of the natural science model of mind” for achieving a historical self reflection in the human sciences on a model of the mind. While she observes that wide circles in the natural sciences lack a good dose of self reflection, she does not acknowledge that the same is true for wide parts of anthropology when it comes to find out about human cognition, learning, connecting and embodiment of cultural models. Toren argues for the human body and mind to be an autopoetic system, a thought that she draws from neurologists Humbert R. Maturana and Francisco J. Valera (Maturana/Valera 1980). Toren already discussed this important approach in her 1999 published book “Mind, Materiality and History”, where she uses terms like “mind”, “embodiment” and formulates that humans are biologically cultural and culturally biological” (Toren 1999:5). At the same time she does not acknowledge the fact that biology sometimes has a distinct influence on our cultural underpinnings. This of course now is a rather slippery argument in the ears of many anthropologists, and one that brings me again to the already above mentioned gene debate as one very prominent feature in the humdrum of nature/nurture arguments. While the overemphasizing of the influence of genes on human cultural agency by genetics is inaccurate, it is crucial to state that there of course is, in the widest sense, an influence on genes on the cultural human condition. The truth of course, as this statement tries to make clear, is always found in the middle of all arguments, as Whitehouse states that “however we answer such questions, genes, environment and culture stand in complex relations of mutual causation” (Whitehouse 2001:2). As it is far from my intention to start a debate on the extent to which genes influence the human condition, I rather want to bring attention to the core of my argument. My main goal in the course of this thesis will be to bring useful arguments and views together in one place, regardless of their background, as long as theories serve the bigger argument. This approach has been taken before of course, as transcending various theoretical backgrounds and moulding them in one bigger argument has been done before in anthropology. This involves a number of brilliant researchers such as Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn (Strauss/Quinn 1997), Stephen Reyna (Reyna 2002) and Robben and Suárez-Orozco (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000), as in addition others have engaged anthropology in a courageous debate bringing the two sides closer together (Moore/Matthews 2001, Whitehouse 2001, McKinnon/Silverman 2005). Maybe the most significant argument though, was first brought up by Stephen Reyna in his 2002 published volume “Connections” (Reyna 2002), where he argues that bringing in theories from natural sciences and medicine does not necessarily imply choosing a deterministic or relativistic approach. The significance of his argument lies in acknowledging Boas as the father of an 20

anthropology as “a unified study of four fields: cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistics” (Reyna 2002:178). What Reyna does is holding a mirror before the face of anthropology by showing that the core of a unified analysis for the human condition lies deep within the cradle of anthropology itself. He further shows in the course of his argumentation that the incorporation of medical and natural sciences does not necessarily lead to deterministic approaches, as is commonly criticized by hardcore “cultural” anthropologists. Mc Kinnon and Silverman further challenge the grave distinction between nature and nurture in their recently published book “Complexities” (McKinnon/Silverman 2005), which brings together arguments from both sides and produces an engagement in a fruitful dialogue between the disciplines. While McKinnon and Silverman believe that “reductionist strategies have their uses in sciences” and that “the search for universal and shared qualities of the human existence is a valuable scientific goal”, they in turn also “question some of the ways in which reductive and universalising accounts of human biological and social life have been constructed” (2005:1). The sum up the core of the debate in stating their conviction that their book
“mobilizes anthropological knowledge of human diversity and biosocial complexity in order to challenge both the reductionism of these accounts and their implications for public life. In doing so, we do not intend merely o rehearse the long-standing debate over nature versus nurture. The issues in that debate have by no means been resolved, and it continues to be necessary to bring anthropological understandings of cultural variation and contingency to bear on the recurrent claims that “biology is destiny”. However, we believe that the contrast is, in fact, a false one. Neither nature nor nurture exists without the other. On the one hand, what we understand as “nature” is culturally defined, and the so-called givens of nature come into being only through developmental process that unfold within environments – from the intrauterine to the culturally created environments in which humans live out their life cycles. On the other hand, “nurture” operates on an array of organic entities, from genes and molecules to whole organisms and ecosystems, which have evolved throughout the history of our species. That nature and nurture are inextricably linked, constituting a continually interactive set of processes, is now widely accepted in principle” (McKinnon/Silverman 2005:2).

To finally come back to the theme of this thesis, let me say that I understand the topic of traumatization as a multi facetted one, involving more than one theoretical background, such as only an anthropological. Neither though could traumatization in conflict zones be explained exclusively through psychological approaches, doing completely without the background of solid ethnography. I believe the time has come to acknowledge the correlations between our disciplines and see it as the biggest challenge anthropology has probably faced since the discipline’s establishment in the academic world: To open up to approaches and views from 21

outside. Bringing disciplines together in the spirit of Boas’ times offers an enormous pool of creativity that we as anthropologists are entitled to work with, in order to find a more holistic explanation on such hard to grasp themes as will be discussed in this thesis. In this sense I am arguing with Robben and Suárez-Orozco who seek to “broaden the dialogue between psychoanalysis and anthropology” and ask if the two disciplines can “develop and sustain a mutually intelligible and fruitful conversation around the enduring problem of collective violence and massive trauma” (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000:1). For it is important for an accurate analysis of traumatization issues to recognize that a theoretical building to grasp this very phenomenon is made of a complex set of terms. This includes discussions around experience, memory, suffering, emotions and the formation of cultural models. Only the joining together of these discourses can achieve a massive challenge in the analysis of traumatization and healing after experienced violence in such places as Northern Ireland.

After outlining the basic theoretical and methodological framework of my thesis I now want to give a short overview of the structure of the text. Chapter 1 of this work will tackle a number of points that I consider highly relevant for the formation of traumatic experience in Northern Ireland. My argument will be that the overall situation of discrimination and terror (not only affecting the Catholic minority of the province) leads to a permanent state of alarm. Relevant issues within this field include crude discrimination of Catholic residents on the labour market, in housing policies and in education, all of which state bodies are responsible for. Further I will address the manifestation of a culture of state terror that kept people under a constant condition of fear and permanent alert. Thirdly I will consider the media representation of the conflict as relevant in contributing to the marginalization of the Catholic/Nationalist community, and will also show how an official version of happenings during the Troubles was constructed and fed to the media. All three areas contributed to the construction of a twisted reality of people’s everyday lifes in an Orwellian style. Chapter 2 will confront the reader with a number of individual traumatic experiences, along which I will try to outline the basic idea of how traumatic experience in a violent conflict changes people’s daily routines. As I will use examples from both my fieldwork and researcher’s


ethnographic material I will try to underline the chosen excerpts with arguments from the theoretical literature I have already briefly mentioned in the preceding pages. Chapter 3 will then shift attention back to a broader frame, namely to collective representations of traumatic experience. In this part of my thesis I will concentrate a lot on visual markers of the conflict, and let these speak as a collective expression of trauma. The chapter will also necessarily highlight a small number of events from Northern Ireland’s troubles that have been widely promoted in the public medium both within the catholic and the protestant community. As I will lay out these visual formations of a collective expression of traumatic experience, I will again seek to complement my outlines from the theoretical literature on trauma. My outlines on political murals in Northern Ireland will be structured after the historical development rather than a strict thematic or a clear-cut seperation of descritpion between Protestant or Catholic murals. Chapter 4 will then focus on dynamics of healing after traumatic experience. Here I will again discuss approaches from both anthropology and psychology relevant to the topic. Further I will outline the potential of NGO work towards healing in Northern Ireland, and will present a conversation with Tom Hannon, former director of the Cornerstone community, who outlines the work of the community in an Interface area of West Belfast. Chapter 5 will bring attention to a more personal context of the discussed topic. The chapter will briefly outline why the music of the Irish rock group U2 has influenced me to work on the conflict in Northern Ireland. It will present the work of U2 in relation to the topic of trauma and healing, and further analyse the band’s work in the context of the conflict in Northern Ireland. In addition it will describe the bands influence on the peace process. A Conclusion will close the thesis, by summing up the central arguments within it and again making clear the importance of the chosen approach. Also, I will provide an outlook on future dynamics of the political and societal processes in the afermath of the conflict.



In this chapter of my thesis I will focus on the broader frame that encompasses the formation of traumatic experience in Northern Ireland. As I will shift attention to representations of collective and individual trauma a little later in this work, my aim for this chapter will be to outline a number of phenomena that contributed to the manifestation of trauma in Northern Irish conflict from 1968 to 1998, a period also commonly termed “the Troubles”. The search, the understanding, and a possible explanation of such phenomena of course could alone fill a good part of this thesis. This is mostly due to the fact that anthropology can look at a rich tradition of ethnographic work in the context of violent conflict. A number of anthropologists such as Taussig (1987), Sluka (1989, 2000), Feldman (1991), Nordstrom (1997, 2004), Green (1998) and Das, Kleinman, Lock & Reynolds (1997, 2000, 2001) have set significant standards of descriptions within this sub-field of anthropology and social and cultural sciences. In the context of Northern Ireland the works of Sluka (1989, 1992, 1995, 2000), Feldman (1991, 1995, 1997) and the late Begona Aretxaga (1998, 2001) represent examples of dedicated fieldwork and the subsequent publishing of high standard ethnographic data that has sought to mirror patterns of crude injustice and oppression of marginalized communities within the context of the Northern Irish conflict. People’s experience in the Northern Irish conflict has been defined by living in a constant state of fear, suffering and pain that contributed to a collective state of prolonged traumatization. As Green has pointed out “fear and suffering became a meta-narrative” in the younger history of Northern Ireland; “fear (was) the reality in which people lived, the hidden state of emergency, that is factored into the choices women and men make” (Green 1995:106). The experience of everyday violence on streets, in homes, and in prisons complicated and obscured people’s daily routines and everyday lives. This constant state of being on alert was not limited to a single ethnic community in the North of Ireland. Not only the Catholic-Nationalist minority fell prey to this phenomena. A whole population that was engaged in the conflict one or the other way, Republicans, Loyalists, police or army were all affected by this state of permanent emergency. 24

How and to which extent these groups were tangled up in the conflict, will be the goal of this chapter. Thus I will tackle three major problematics that constitute the background for the manifestation of traumatic experience in Northern Ireland. The first area can be located in the socio-economic sector, and includes questions that relate to the labour market, housing policies and education. These three topics have consistently mirrored the segregation between Catholic and Protestant residents. The second area will address questions around the topic of state terror and paramilitary violence; both phenomena have defined Northern Ireland’s image in and outside of the province. Media representations of the conflict will be the topic of the third area, as I consider the complexities around official representations of the conflict highly significant for the manifestation of collective trauma, and will outline that such official viewpoints have differed greatly from “alternative” representations in the past. One major goal of the following description will also be to clarify why mostly the Catholic/Nationalist community of Ulster has suffered greatly among repressive measures introduced by the British state. Where on the other hand there is the Protestant/Loyalist community. While it formed out it’s own traumata linked to the political situation in Northern Ireland, it has remained widely unaffected by crude and repressive government measures. With this let me jump straight into the first area.

For the following explanations concerning facts and figures regarding the socio-economic discrimination of Catholics in Northern Ireland, it is important to note that the figures presented must be seen as a relative view of the actual day-to-day situation in the province. The situation might for some have been a lot harder and difficult than outlined here, for others again, their situation might not have been as strongly affected by discrimination as indicated here. The grievances of the Catholic minority of Northern Ireland in the socio-economic sector can be summed up with one word: discrimination. Discrimination of Catholics has a long tradition in the province of Ulster and the Orange Northern Irish State since 1921. Ever since its establishment, the Catholic/Nationalist community of the province has experienced major shortcomings from 25

public policies, which various Orange governments held responsible for. From the beginning of the state in 1921 up to the 1970s and 1980s when Northern Ireland was ruled directly from London by the British government. The policies made by Northern Ireland’s representatives have sought to exclude Catholics on a broad basis. This is true not only in a wider frame of public life in Ulster, but also on a socio-economic level that included policies concerning employment, housing, health care, education, policing and the representation of Catholics in public institutions. I will examine three, the labour market, housing and education.

1.1.1. Employment/The Labour Market
As Fay, Morrissey and Smyth (1999) note, the discrimination against Catholics has been part of political campaigning of Protestant Northern Irish prime ministers already in the early 1940s. This among other measures included open public denunciation of Catholic labour force, stigmatising them as unreliable and lazy (1999:96). Concerning employment, the basic figures presented by Fay, Morrissey and Smith remark that in general unemployment among Catholics has been twice as high as among Protestants, a figure that has remained fairly steady on that level for many years (1999:96). Reasons for that lie in circumstances that I will now briefly outline. As the authors reveal the first official figures on unemployment were published only in 1971, which showed that Catholic male unemployment was 17,3% compared to 6,6% for Protestant men. Reasons for the difficult job situation in the 1970s must be placed within a bigger frame of an overall discrimination of Catholics. One must also consider the context of the big economic crises of the time that affected economies on a global level. The depressing labour market situation persisted through the 1980s. Compared to unemployment rates in the rest of the United Kingdom, figures generally revealed a far worse situation for Northern Ireland. Discrimination towards Catholics though must mainly be seen in a broader social context within Northern Ireland itself correlating with stigmatisation issues as mentioned above. As such Fay, Morrissey and Smith list a number of factors they consider highly indicative for the repressive job situation for Catholics. Among these were mechanisms such as “ensuring industry as located in places inaccessible to Catholics; refusing to select Catholics who applied for jobs; companies establishing reputations as being unreceptive to Catholic recruitment, so that Catholics come to perceive the futility of job applications”, and finally “bypassing public processes of selection, so that informal networks, including the channels of Orange and Masonic Orders, substitute as 26

recruitment agencies” (1999:97). In addition to that they also mention threats and intimidations on the work place itself as significant. These create a situation of fear and subordination on a daily level. Thus we can see most of the mentioned mechanisms also reach into a field of psychological intimidation and pressuring, supporting the creation of trauma on a collective societal basis. As a further note, the job career rate for Catholics was significantly worse than for Protestants. Which indicates that Catholics were not only generally unrepresentative, but also experienced a “progressively decreasing representation as one progresses up the hierarchy of supervisory and managerial grades” (1999:99). The early 1990s did not bring a significant change on the overall job situation for Catholics. Mentioning the 1990 Labour Force Survey Fay, Morrissey and Smyth show that the unemployment among the Catholic community was till twice as high as among Protestants, with a respective total male unemployment rate of 56% for Catholics and 44% respectively for Protestants. Another factor that the authors mention is the general attitude of Catholics towards the state and measures introduced by it to ameliorate the labour market situation. This attitude of course can generally be described as reluctant to fundamentally rejective. Citing O’Connor the authors consider that:
”discrimination, fear of physical attack and conviction that the state was “alien, not ours” are the themes that surface repeatedly when people talk about how they first became aware of being “Northern Catholics”” (O’Connor 1993 in Fay/Morrissey/Smyth1999:102).

Although I believe there is significance in the views outlined by Fay, Morrissey and Smyth, I also believe that they do not place Catholic suffering and their subsequent resistance to the state in a context of the wider discriminatory web of oppressive measures that the state introduced against the Catholic community. Some of these I will outline in the terror/terrorism section of this chapter a little later. A few extra figures can be brought in addition to the assessment. First, in conjunction with the poor performance of the Northern Irish economy, it can be stated that Northern Ireland traditionally was, and still is, one of the poor regions of the United Kingdom. Thus, the income of Northern Irish households, lay a lot lower than compared to the rest of the UK, even the poorer regions in the North of England. This situation worsened between 1975 and 1979 (99:104), and ameliorated slightly from the middle of the 1980s onwards. The economy in general improved from the middle of the 1990s onwards. This was due mainly to the announcements of paramilitary ceasefires and the enrolling peace process. As violence 27

certainly played a role in the worsening of the economic performance as Fay, Morrissey and Smyth note, one must also take the oil shocks of the 1970s into account, that haven shaken economies on a global level. Northern Ireland only caught up with the poorest British regions by 1986/87 (99:110). The job decline that the province experienced in the 1970s persisted through most of the 1980s, whereas in the UK employment rates started to rise again after 1983 (99:114). Only the year 1986 marked a change in job supplies for Northern Ireland; serious improvement although only occurred after 1991, the year witch showed the highest unemployment rate in Northern Ireland since the early 1960s (99:113). Here again, the announcement of paramilitary ceasefires in the middle of the 1990s changed the situation dramatically to a positive turn. Fay, Morrissey and Smyth remark that despite 30 years of violent conflict the Northern Irish economy continued functioning. And as the authors stress although violence played an important role in the deprivation of conflict ridden areas, Northern Ireland profited a lot from public expenditure that sought to ameliorate the economic situation of the province. Still, in relation to public expenditure and policies introduced to tackle the depressive economic situation in Northern Ireland, it must be remarked that the introduction of various agencies and committees, producing a variety of reports on the situation, that furthered measures such as the Fair Employment Act (1976) can be seen as insufficient. This becomes obvious when considering measures taken in the rest of the United Kingdom and the amelioration there compared to the recovery of the job situation in Northern Ireland. The overall deprivation of the Catholic/Nationalist community is of course also mirrored in the housing conditions of the province with which I will deal next.

1.1.2. Housing
The final remark in Fay, Morrissey and Smyth’s before examined article “Economic and social aspects of the Troubles” (Fay, Morrissey, Smyth 1999) leads me straight into the second area of observation, namely the problematic of discrimination concerning housing policies. The authors conclude with the remark that “there does appear to be a relationship between the intensity of violence in an area and its level of deprivation. While the relation is not simple, it certainly implies that social and economic reconstruction is an irreducible component of a peace process” (Fay, Morrissey, Smyth 1999:117). In this crucial observation lies buried much of the core problematic, with all the discrimination and 28

subsequent suffering that was promoted by housing policies as exercised in Northern Ireland. The history of settlement and housing in Ulster can largely be described as one of domination and subordination of Protestants over Catholics; a situation which among many other sentiments created fear. The repressive situation started with the first plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century. Leaving the province without leadership, the “Flight of the Earls” in 1607 promoted a situation in which the English government, taking advantage of the power vacuum in the province, sent Protestant settlers to Ulster, creating a scheme of Protestant settlers and Catholic dwellers, thus producing a coordinated level of segregation between the two groups. Building a status exemption within the Catholic community, some Irish settlers were allowed to stay as tenants and landlords providing labour. But even as such they were excluded and discriminated and considered as disloyal to English rule (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:7). The second plantation led by Oliver Cromwell enforced this notion and produced a transfer of power from Catholics to Protestants, creating a Protestant ruling class owning and distributing the land (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:7). By 1830, in urban areas such as Belfast, the permanent struggle for jobs and housing led to numerous outbreaks of violence. This caused the middle class to move to suburbs, leaving the working class dwelling in ghetto-like areas closer to the centre. Attacks on Catholic homes became common from this time onwards, producing a total of nine phases of burnings and evictions of Catholic settlers from 1835 to 1935 (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:7). As even the authors conclude, the attacks created a situation of “well justified” permanent fear, which they consider as “the principal reason for the segregation of housing on religious lines” (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:7). The overall situation did not change much in the dawning 20th century, since not enough cottages were built, especially in rural areas. The lack of running water was one of the biggest deficits, and by the end of World War II it became obvious that a huge portion of houses needed repair, and a large sum of dwellings was required to eliminate overcrowding and slums (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:8). The first public protest against discrimination in housing surfaced in the early 1960s. As it was the time of the civil right movements, protests quickly spread across the country, and in 1964 the Campaign for Social Justice formed (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:6). The campaign brought obvious discrimination of Catholics in housing to public concern. This 29

included unfair treatment such as “(i) the inadequacy of housing provision by certain local authorities, (ii) unfair methods of allocation of houses built and let by such authorities, in particular refusals and omissions to adopt a point system and (iii) misuse in certain areas of discretionary powers of allocation of houses in order to perpetuate Unionist control of the local authority” (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:9). Put short this means, that government bodies, which were responsible for the fair distribution of dwellings to those who fitted in the requirement scheme of the Housing Executive, often favoured Protestant candidates over Catholics. This happened despite it was obvious that the deprivation in Catholic areas was far worse than in Protestant ones. The establishment of a number of bodies in the 1970s, such as the before mentioned Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) in late 1971, sought to reduce injustice. As the authors outline, the outbreak of the violent conflict did not facilitate the work of the NIHE. In the summer of 1969 350 families had to leave their homes due to violent outbreaks, with lootings, burnings, and subsequent evictions. August 1971 saw more than 2000 families leaving their homes. Similar numbers continued through the following years (Feldman 1991:23) Again I want to present a few figures and statistics from more recent times, which might give an impression on housing conditions from the middle of the 1980s to the middle of the 1990s. The Continuous Household Survey (CHS) from 1983 to 1985 shows that a higher proportion of Protestants than Catholics lived in public housing. In terms of segregation it can be stated that only 15% of Protestants and 21% of Catholics were willing to live in mixed areas. That shows that the grade of segregation was very high, especially in urban areas such as Belfast or Derry, and there again mostly in working class areas. Also the percentage of Catholics in fact living in public housing was a lot higher than among Protestants. Most Catholics, namely around 37%, lived in public housing; only half of this percentage lived either in owner-occupied or private housing. Also the segregation in public housing was higher than in private. Considering the size of household, it shows that Catholic households had a higher average number of persons than Protestant ones, while the former occupied less space than the latter (all figures Gibson, Wilson 1994:11). Finally the question remains whether governmental initiatives have brought positive change for Catholics and thus more equality. The answer must be “no”. Figures from the late 1980s show that there was an approximate 2:1 disparity in re-housing chances, preferring 30

Protestants over Catholics (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:16). Also the Public Sector Housing System has not encouraged integration between the two major ethnic groups in Northern Ireland. Several reports and evaluations have shown that policies introduced by the Northern Ireland Housing executive have enforced the segregation between Protestants and Catholics (Gibson, Michael, Wilson 1994:18). Consequently, as has been indicated before, segregation between the communities promoted a higher level of violent outbreaks. Reasons why this was the case, and how such outbreaks were enforced will be part of later outlines in this chapter on state terror and paramilitary violence.

1.1.3. Education
The area of education must be viewed from a slightly different angle, than the problematics around the labour market and housing, since the segregation between Catholics and Protestants seems a lot more obvious on the first look, when it comes to the matter of education within each community. This is true for the fact that education policies for Catholics have traditionally been very much dominated by Church bodies in Northern Ireland. Education and the attendance of school type were one of the most sensitive topics within the conflict, and are also considered one of the most decisive factors for future generations in Northern Ireland. As many examples have shown, among them the protests around Holy Cross primary school in Belfast in early September 2001 and the preceding months, segregated education operates at a very high level. The bitterness of parents often prevents their children of attending integrated schools, and much more than that thwarts them to step into a more open dialogue about the education of the future generation of Northern Ireland. Thus, integrated schooling, where both Catholic and Protestant children are taught in shared classes, still represents a great minority compared to segregated education. As we can see, the questions around education policies probably more than any other area, offer opportunities to come together and overcome old barriers in order to start a lasting healing process. As Smith (1999) notes, the current education system in Northern Ireland is relatively small (Smith 1999:3). The author also provides a few figures. According to these there is about 300.000 children in Northern Ireland spread over an approximate number of 1200 schools. As noted above most schools are segregated. Integrated schools are attended only by 3% of all children (Smith 1999:3). This is respectively the percentage that has amounted by the year 31

1999, after a 25-year history of integrated schooling. Thus, as Smith notes the earliest development around integrated schooling started in 1973 initiated by a Belfast school principal; the funding for these early project although was relatively scarce. More serious help emanated from initiatives within the community relations sector, which helped with a great input of “time, material and personnel” (Smith 1999:3). The earliest initiative that established in this area was a group called “All Children Together” (ACT) (Smith 1999:8). ACT lobbied integrated schooling successfully for legislation; in 1977 state schools were allowed to become integrated. By the end of the 1990s more than 20 community relations projects were involved in likely work (Smith 1999:4). Regarding governmental input for integrated schooling, the first initiatives started in the early 1980s. What developed was a scheme that was supposed to bring Catholic and Protestant children closer to each other. By 1987 the Department of Education funded inter-school contacts by an annual 0,4 million pounds sterling. One year later a scheme called “Education for Mutual Understanding” (EMU) was introduced. The goal was to bring this scheme into school curriculums (Smith 1999:5). As an Education Reform Order in 1989 put more responsibility on schools to promote EMU, the scheme became a mandatory feature of curricula by the end of the 1990s. Still, less than a third of all schools had an active policy in place that promoted EMU. Opposition against it was widespread. Reasons included the fear of hidden political agendas, or that the EMU scheme was not consistent with the curricula of schools. Others voiced frustration, because the scheme did not address important social, cultural and political issues. For others again “hot topics” like violence and sectarianism seemed to have no place to be discussed in school (Smith 1999:6). As we can see reservations were manifold, thus the success of integrated schooling became evident only on a very low level. Regarding the segregated education of children it must also be understood, that Catholic schools had a significant ideological value for the Catholic/Nationalist community. Since as Smith remarks, “apart from the Church itself, the Catholic school system represented the only significant social institution of civil society over which the Catholic community, through the Church, exercised a degree of control (Smith 1999:7). The funding of Catholic schools was traditionally financed privately or by the Church. This changed with the establishment of the Northern Irish state. By the late 1960s the state held responsible for granting 85% of capital costs, by 1989 Catholic schools were funded by 100% (Smith 1999:7). Thus, it appears the main concern lies not so much with discrimination, but more with the problematic of 32

segregation between Catholic and Protestant children, and with this the teaching of different foci of history, historical self-perceptions and cultural values. The situation by the end of the 1990s clearly shows that the efforts by the government put into integrated schooling are far from satisfying. A simple look at the figures reflects that. Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which sought for reforms on a widespread socio-political agenda, the issue of integrated schooling in Northern Irish children remains one of the biggest challenges to this day.

The second part of this chapter is devoted to a rather big and complex political territory around people’s traumatic experience during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, namely the topics of state terror, terrorism and the media reception of the conflict within the province. The thematic is complex not so much for the difficulty to explain the entangled area of interests and power relations, but more because the views that will be presented here contradict most of the perceptions that have established in the public in and outside of Northern Ireland around this conflict. The phenomenon of state terrorism was a widespread problematic before and after the Second World War in numerous countries around the globe. The establishment of the worldwide slave trade into the “New World” brought until then unimagined suffering on people. Colonialism did its own to inflict horrors and terror upon people, as Taussig reveals for the African Congo and the Putumayo region in South America in his classic “Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (Taussig 1987). In the early 20th century countries such as Turkey annihilated millions of Armenians, and never had to take political responsibility for it to this day. Policies of annihilation and oppression were a common policy in the pre-WWII Europe (Aly 2002). The policies of mass extinction as exercised by the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945 were common sense among many right wing politicians; only the industrialization of killing was a first to this point in time. Soviet Stalinism is responsible for millions of killings that are still not recognized by people around the globe, be it on the left or the right. And the mass extinction of Armenians in Turkey in the early 1920s is still denied by the Turkish government. As Sluka notes after the Second World War literally every country in Central and South America, and a significant number of 33

countries in Africa and Asia became dominated by military governments (Sluka 2000:2). In Western Europe especially two countries can be named for dirty politics such as applied in Central and South America; these are Spain and the Basque Country (Zulaika 1988, Aretxaga 2000, 2004) and Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Sluka 1989, Feldman 1991, Aretxaga 1997). As Sluka further explains, “even small states have much more power to terrorize than even the most advanced antistate terrorists” (Sluka 2000:1/2). He notes that in political science, and also in anthropology, there is a “convention of distinguishing between state violence and antistate violence, referring to the former as “terror” and the latter as “terrorism” (Sluka 2000:1). Whereas antistate terrorism seeks to undermine and overthrow the authority of the state by using violent means, state terror “refers to the use or threat of violence by the state or its agents or supporters, particularly against civilian individuals and populations, as a means of political intimidation and control (i.e. means of repression)” (Sluka 2000:2). These states have continuously denied victims of their violence any recognition for the losses and their suffering that was inflicted upon them. In the course of the last 40 years a number of organizations have been established that fight such amnesia exercised by states. Probably the most significant of such movements in Central and South America are the “Madres de Plaza de Mayo”, in Northern Ireland significant examples include the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), the “Peace People”, Relatives For Justice (RFJ) and Silent Too Long. States engaged in state-terror-like activities have always sought to strip the truth off their victims and to render their stories either as widely exaggerated or simply as lies. This is a process that is very significant for the understanding of traumatic experience. A number of problematics arise for affected actors and agents as Herman (2001) explains:
“…when the traumatic events are of human design, those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict. The bystander is forced to take sides. It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering…(….)…In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of the victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the


perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail” (Herman 2001:7/8).

The explanation Herman delivers sums up a significant part of the problematic that encapsulates the conflict in Northern Ireland. Through the course of this thesis it will become clear that the Northern Irish state and various British governments have stripped people off the acknowledgement of their pain and suffering.

Pl. 2: Falls Road, West Belfast 2003. A Mural-plate advertising for a march against Collusion.

It will become obvious that authorities in Ulster have done everything in their power to “promote forgetting” and ceaselessly target the “credibility” of their opponents. For most victims though the acknowledgment of their suffering and the identification of the agents of violence is an important part of their coming to terms with the experienced. Throughout the conflict the state has known to manipulate events and construct a truth owned by it. Since 35

state authorities exercised great control over the media, various institutions have known how to communicate their constructed truth about the conflict to the wider public. Thus, most of the information, which was delivered to news corporations and the public in and outside of Northern Ireland, must be considered political untruths manufactured by various British governments and other institutions close to the state, such as secret services, the military or police forces. The British state has consequently claimed its actions and policies applied in Northern Ireland as accurate reactions in fighting and defeating terrorism, Republican terrorism that sought to undermine and overthrow the state and terrorize a whole population within the province of Ulster. Thus, the policies applied justified the use of any means to control and wipe out the threat of Republican paramilitary terrorism, such as exercised by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). As Sluka (2000) notes, Unionists and British authorities have consequently denied unrightful policies employed and have known to portray the conflict as a matter of Republican violence, that seeks to undermine and overthrow the Northern Irish province of Ulster. Sluka explains:
“Two (other) big lies or political myths propagated by the British and Unionist authorities and the media in general are (1) that Loyalist violence is a defensive or retributive “reaction” to the Republican armed struggle to achieve a united Ireland; and (2) that the war in Northern Ireland is a sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants, marked by “tit-for-tat” killings, in which the British are a third “neutral” party trying to keep the peace between them. Both of these characterizations fly in the face of the historical and contemporary record. They are propaganda or psychological warfare which ultimately emanate from the British government and it’s military apparatus in Northern Ireland” (Sluka 2000: 144/145).

In the light of pain and suffering from violence, be it inflicted by the state in collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries or Republican paramilitary organizations, the weighting of violence might appear cynical to some readers. In fact though the clarification of these relations is very significant, since it makes obvious the power relations within the conflict. Thus, in the following I want to outline the frame of mechanisms of violence within the conflict.

1.2.1. The Background of Events and the Politics of State Terror
What had established in the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland has been identified by anthropologists as a culture of terror (Taussig 1987). As opposed to the media reception of 36

the conflict, it has been brought to the fore by numerous publications by non governmental organizations such as Amnesty International (AI), Relatives for Justice (RFJ) and Silent Too Long, and moreover by anthropological writing, that the Troubles in Northern Ireland were in fact dominated by the collusion of Loyalist paramilitaries, police and army forces, the British secret services MI5 and MI6, and various British governments themselves. What happened was a systematic terrorization of the Catholic-Nationalist community by colluding forces, such as the above mentioned. It must also be stated that violence inflicted by the IRA has been mostly in reaction to state terror. As Sluka remarks:

Pl. 3: Derry 2003. A Mural depicting a British soldier smashing a door with a sledgehammer.

“Unlike Loyalist ideology, a cornerstone of Republican ideology is antisectarianism, and the IRA do not select targets on the basis of religion. Sectarian killings - that is, killing people simply because of their religion - is the hallmark only of the Loyalist death squads” (Sluka 2000:146).


The statistics on political killings in Northern Ireland underline this argumentation. Sluka outlines that between 1969 and 1994 (the year of the declaration of paramilitary ceasefires) a total of 3168 have been killed. Of these 1045 (33%) were security forces, and 1067 (33,7%) were Catholic civilians, that means innocent Catholics killed on a random basis. 571 persons of this total were Protestants (20%) of which 114 were killed by Loyalist paramilitaries, mistaken for Catholics, simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The number of killed individuals directly linked to Loyalist or Republican paramilitary violence amounts to 314 Republicans (19,9%) compared to 89 Loyalists (2,8%). The remaining victims, listed either as political activists or Unclarified, register slightly above 2,6 % and pose a number of less than 100 persons (all figures Sluka 2000:132). It might appear that the actual number of over 3300 killed persons (including those killed after the declaration of the first ceasefires in 1994) is relatively low compared to the 30 years of violent conflict. But as Smith (1999) indicates the perception towards death and loss in Northern Ireland has always been a very sensitive one, as he remarks “every loss is felt acutely within the society” even when “the total number of deaths is relatively low when compared to conflicts in many other parts of the world” (Smith 1999:2). Thus, the sensitivity towards issues related to state terror like activities register on a very conscious level among the residents of Northern Ireland.

1.2.2. Civil Rights and the Establishment of the Provisional IRA
As Sluka further explains, the culture of British state terror goes back to the early days of the Northern Irish state, and even beyond, before the founding of the IRA, to the time of the first Protestant settlers in Northern Ireland (Sluka 2000: 133). As was already indicated before, the situation for Catholics in Ulster has been a repressive one ever since the arrival of Protestant settlers in the early 17th century. The ideological outline of the Orange state that established in 1921 only reflected the sentiments towards Catholics from preceding times. As such the Catholic minority of the newly established state suffered from an array of shortcomings, as I have outlined earlier in this chapter, but also from crude political discrimination and prosecution. The 1960s brought significant change insofar that for the first time voices for more civil rights grew louder and articulated the shortcomings that Catholics experienced. Thus, in 1967 the Northern Irish Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was formed, and on August 24th 1968 the first civil rights march organized by the NICRA took place with 2000 protesters marching from Coalisland to 38

Dungannon (Fay, Morrissey, Smyth 1999:25). The peaceful nature of these protests though was only short-lived, as on October 5th 1968 2000 marchers in Derry faced a roadblock by the RUC. As the march was declared illegal by the Unionist government, the RUC began to attack the marchers on a random basis, starting with batons and subsequently by the use of water canons (Coulter 1999:151/152). The escalation on this day can be marked as the start of the Modern Troubles in Northern Ireland. The situation deteriorated when the first attacks on protesters by Loyalists occurred in early 1969 at a march from Belfast to Derry. Severe riots in Belfast and Derry with attacks on Catholic civilians followed in the subsequent months. This escalation moved the British government to the decision to deploy troops to Northern Ireland. Thus, on August 14th and 15th 1969 British troops entered Derry and Belfast, in order to grant Catholic civilians protection from the attacks of Protestant mobs and Loyalist paramilitaries. Very soon though it became obvious that the British Army was neither able nor willing to protect the Catholic community from Protestant attacks. This development set in motion a dispute within the Republican movement that eventually led to the split between older and younger fractions within the IRA. As a dissident fraction had argued that the IRA had lost all its credibility because it was unable to grant protection for its community from sectarian attacks, this group split away forming the Provisional IRA, starting its campaign in the summer of 1970 (Fay, Morrissey, Smyth 1999:26). Thus, what subsequently became known as the IRA was in fact the armed struggle of the PIRA. The dynamic of violence that ensued can hardly be described with a few phrases. First and foremost, the armed conflict between Republican paramilitaries and state forces, or such loyal to it, must be seen as insurgency and counter-insurgency. The crucial point about this observation is again to recognize the difference in magnitude of power and means to meet the ends of either achieving a Northern Ireland free of political British influence or, on the state’s side, the total destruction of the Irish Republican movement. Sluka’s observation, that “unlike Loyalist ideology, a cornerstone of Republican ideology is antisectarianism, and the IRA do not select targets on the basis of religion” (Sluka 2000:146) is of course true, but it does not per se rule out the killing of innocent victims by the IRA, INLA or likely groups. As such the phenomenon of state terror as such with all its implications shall stand for itself within this thesis: as an unjustified means to an equally unjustified end. Neither shall Republican violence be portrayed as justified within this work. As mentioned earlier in this chapter: the only possible view on pain and suffering caused by violence is the examination 39

of the unjustifiable fact that a state uses the same means as those of which it wishes to control. What it boils down to, even for an anthropological observation of events, is that the Northern Irish conflict is to a very significant extent a moral issue.

1.2.3. Internment, Collusion and Nationalist Resistance
Thus the events unfolding through the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s are in fact a matter of insurgency and counterinsurgency, only that the latter was performed on an unproportional level. As the Provisional IRA started attacking army and police forces in retaliation of violence inflicted upon innocent Catholics, the Northern Irish state set loose a dynamic of coordinated intimidation and terror, that Sluka earlier referred to as “a culture of British state terror in Northern Ireland” (Sluka 2000:127). On August 9th 1971 the Northern Irish state introduced “internment without trial”. As Feldman notes, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the British Army arrested 342 Catholics out of their homes in a series of predawn house raids, who were suspected “active Republicans” or secret members of the IRA. Within six months a number of 2357 people were arrested and interrogated in a degrading an inhumane manner (Feldman 1991:86). Until the height of the operation in 1973 a total of 74556 households were affected by Internment, constituting one fifth of all households in Northern Ireland. To legalize its actions the state sanctioned a number of laws, among them the Emergency Provisions and Prevention of Terrorism Acts that permitted it to make arrests on a random basis as long as people could be suspected of insurgent behaviour towards the state (Feldman 1991:88). In addition the British Army introduced operations of permanent surveillance and observation in Catholic areas throughout Northern Ireland. Of course resistance against the night raids was well developed within a short time. As the Army used to paint walls of houses and along streets in a non-reflective black paint, in order that their black Saracens could not be seen by night, local residents started painting over these walls with white colour. Moreover residents introduced what became known as “hen” patrols. As Aretxaga notes hen patrols became an “action most celebrated in the narratives of Nationalist women” (Aretxaga 1997:67). In opposition to Army patrols, so called “duck patrols”, local women patrolled the streets of Catholic neighbourhoods during night time in order to warn the community and the IRA of approaching army patrols of the British Army by blowing whistles and banging 40

garbage bins against the pavement. The effect was not only a warning for local men, but also a fright for the army, since the intimidating noise of the women could be already heard from a considerable distance (Aretxaga 1997:67). Another event must be named here, namely Bloody Sunday in Derry on January 30th 1972. The event has been a matter of discussion in many publications and other works, such as films and music, and moreover serves as a prime example of terror inflicted by the British Army and the RUC on innocent Catholic civilians, and the subsequent denial of coordinated killings. The shooting of 27 unarmed civilians and the assassination of 14 of them has produced outrage of an international magnitude. The cover-up of the event that have happened within police and army forces and subsequent official statements regarding the happenings on January 30th in Derry ranged from what Herman identified as “the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization” (Herman 2001:2). For many unbiased observers it was clear, that authorities wanted to teach the insurgent Catholic crowd a lesson and with this destroy the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland by wilfully escalating a march, which would otherwise have remained peaceful. The subsequent escalation of events moved the British government under Prime Minister Edward Heath to suspend the Northern Irish legislative on March 24th 1972 and to introduce direct rule from London. The remaining course of the 1970s saw a step by step escalation of the conflict with bombing campaigns by the IRA, INLA, the announcement of various short timed cease fires, and the subsequent return to bombing campaigns. What developed also from the early 1970s onwards was what I have referred to as Collusion between the British Army, the RUC, various Loyalist paramilitary organization such as the UVF, UFF, and UDA, British secret services such as MI5 and MI6 in collaboration with high rank officials of the British government. As Sluka explains (Sluka 2000) the problematic within this context is mainly one of Loyalist death squads exercising “random sectarian assassinations” in Catholic ghettos of Belfast and Derry. A significant number of security forces were known to be part of various Loyalist paramilitaries. The British Army and the RUC provided information for Loyalist death squads upon which the latter carried out sectarian killings that sought to intimidate and terrorize the Catholic-Nationalist community of Northern Ireland. Moreover these Loyalist death squads were backed up with the army and police. This fact becomes obvious when considering that Loyalists were able to enter and leave Catholic districts virtually undetected 41

by the highly evolved surveillance apparatus that kept Nationalist neighbourhoods under permanent observation. This problematic has been voiced by various NGO’s, among them the before mentioned Relatives for Justice (RFJ) who in 1995 issued “Collusion 1990-1994” (RFJ 1995), a document that brought attention to the use of state terror by the British government (Sluka 2000:131):
“For twenty five years the counter insurgency methods of the British Government in Northern Ireland have involved a Shoot-to-Kill policy, in direct ambushes when both innocent victims and suspects have been shot dead without warning, and in a sinister indirect campaign of murder which involved manipulation of Loyalist paramilitaries who were provided with security information and who then killed with the knowledge that they where free from prosecution. This policy was pursued by small groups of RUC personnel, the British Army and the secret intelligence network of MI5 and MI6. A section of the Northern Ireland administration is aware of this policy, protects it by withholding information, insincere cosmetic investigation, non-prosecution and curbing of inquests. The families and friends of the victims not only suffer the insult of cover-up and lies but they often become targets for harassment and abuse from the British Army and the RUC. They seek redress in publicising the truth to the world and will not cease to bring their grievances before governments and international human rights' bodies” (Relatives For Justice 1995:1).

This war, that the British Army always claimed to have led in reference to IRA violence, gave the Army, the RUC and Unionist politics in Northern Ireland enough space to engage in a campaign of “dirty politics” by infiltrating Loyalist paramilitaries and collaborating with them in terrorizing Catholics (Sluka 2000:134). Probably the most abhorrent killing campaign of Loyalist death squads were the so called “doorstep killings” (Sluka terms them “doorstop murders” [Sluka 2000:138]). For these death squads would knock on house doors or break in with sledgehammers, asking for the name of the victim or killing the first person opening the door regardless of age and gender (Sluka 2000:138). Over half of these murders between 1969 and 1977 occurred in North Belfast (Feldman 1991:71). One prominent thematic within the field of collusion has also been arms trade between the apartheid-regime in South Africa and the British government, deals that were organized by MI5 and provided Loyalist death squads with weapons and ammunition. One such deal became public in 1988 when a British agent, Brian Nelson, was exposed of providing arms to the UDA, which in subsequent years until the declaration of cease-fires were able to carry out a heightened campaign of sectarian killings against Catholics civilians (Sluka 2000:139). Another significant thematic that unveils the dynamic between the state and Republican fighters were the protests in Northern Irish prisons from 1976 to 1982, beginning with the 42

denial to wear prison uniforms in order to achieve political status for Republican inmates. The series of protests can be understood as the most dramatic forms of resistance of imprisoned Republicans against the state authorities. The denial of prison uniforms, also known as the “Blanket Protest” soon shifted to the so called “Dirty Protest” when inmates began pouring their urine out of the windows of their cells and smearing their feces on their prison walls. The last step of the protests was the Hunger Strikes beginning in October 1980. The first of eleven Republican inmates who should die on Hunger Strike was Bobby Sands, a Sinn Fein and IRA activist, and elected Member of Parliament. Sands has probably been the most prominent figure of Nationalist-Republican resistance ever since. Feldman devotes a significant part of his 1991 work “Formations of Violence” on the hunger strikes, and I will elaborate on Sand’s significance as an icon of Catholic-Nationalist traumatic experience in a later chapter of this thesis.

1.2.4. Media
As I have explored some dynamics of the Northern Irish conflict, I now want to turn attention to the media representation of the conflict, which has consequently stripped victims of the acknowledgement of their violent experiences, and suffering. What unfolded during the years of the Troubles was not only a matter of insurgency and counterinsurgency between the Republican movement and Loyalist paramilitaries, RUC and security forces, but also an ideological warfare. In which, as sociologist Colin Coulter puts it, “each year millions of pounds of British taxpayer’s money were spent to ensure that the official version of the Troubles appears frequently in the columns of the press as well as on television and radio programmes” (Coulter 1999:182). As Coulter reveals this “official version” of the conflict in Northern Ireland was produced by numerous official state sponsored bodies, that fed off their information to national and international media. And as October 5th 1968 marked the outbreak of the Troubles with the first clashes between peaceful protesters of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and the RUC, this date was also the start of the medialization of the conflict. Footage of this very event was televised throughout Ulster and the rest of the UK. The broadcast and with it the public imaging of this event revealed the true nature of happenings, as NICRA activists faced a unannounced roadblock by the RUC, which answered the protest by the use of teargas and water hoses.


As these pictures did not support the image the state and its bodies wanted to convey to the public, shortly after the above mentioned events, a coordinated influencing of the public perception started to establish itself throughout the Northern Irish and British media networks. The introduction of direct rule in 1972 saw the creation of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), which had the “specific responsibility of administering the affairs of the province” (Coulter 1999:154), within which the Northern Ireland Information Service (NIIS) was established. As Coulter further explains the “explicit” function of the NIIS was “to propagate the official version of the political developments that unfold within the six counties” as the British state was determined to “emerge victorious from the “propaganda war” that attends the Northern Irish conflict” (Coulter 1999:155). In the following years the NIIS received horrendous sums to maintain its aims, among which was also the provision of information packages to journalists new to the conflict, who were required to report on the violent happenings in Northern Ireland for their news agencies and papers. The official version of the conflict that was produced within this process sought to dismiss all sorts of forces that were directed against the state, and were with this labelled and rendered as immoral and illegal. Another fact that is highly significant for the understanding of the perception of the Northern Irish conflict is the importance of national media. Either in Northern Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom, this was, and still is the British Broadcasting Corporation, or short BBC. The BBC of course has influenced more than any other broadcasting company the coverage of the conflict outside the UK. International news networks have for decades picked up events in Northern Ireland over the biggest and most prestigious news corporation of the United Kingdom, and with this delivered a strongly biased position on the Troubles through hundreds of millions of households around the world. Of course there has also been critical reporting on the conflict. Journalists who chose this much less convenient path, had to endure severe interference by state bodies. Especially under the administration of Margaret Thatcher the BBC and other news networks were facing harsh criticism and pressure by governmental circles. This led to censorship and the termination of a great number of programmes on British and Northern Irish television throughout the 1980s. What the British government sought to achieve with the help of certain media circles in the first place was what Coulter calls the “Ulsterisation” of the conflict (Coulter 1999:154). One measure in this process was the changing of personnel in many institutions that were more or less coordinated by the British state. Regarding the army, this included a step-by-step substitution of 44

English soldiers by local Northern Irish recruits. This step created and unprecedented level of confrontation for the Northern Irish society with the conflict. Another significant measure was the change of policing duties from the British Army patrols to the RUC, as the sight of police rather than army on Northern Ireland’s streets was supposed to indicate “normalization” in the conflict (Coulter 1999:154). Other means to achieve this were a series of advertisement campaigns called “Advertising for Peace” the NIO started to publish in the late 1980s, with the explicit goal “to win over the hearts and minds of the Northern Irish people” to fight sectarian violence (Coulter 1999:158). As Coulter further explains these advertisements marked the utmost problem of the Northern Irish conflict as being one of terrorism and sectarian violence. This was inflicted by a few paramilitary organizations that executed their struggle on the backs of their own communities as well as on those of all peoples of Ulster. The advertisements sought to construct situations, which depicted sceneries of the discrepancy between paramilitary violence and, again, “civilised” public and private life in everyday Northern Ireland. Paramilitary violence, and in particular Republican paramilitary violence, was discredited as being utterly senseless, and an enterprise of small armies, or more to the point, an illegitimate struggle lead by a small number of privately organized criminals. This depiction of course pursued two different goals. First, these adverts mainly forcefully discredited the Republican movement; other measures, such as broadcasting bans of Republican representatives on Northern Irish television, sought to silence Republican views and shut them out from wider public discourses. The adverts specifically picked out Republicans on a prolonged basis to discredit paramilitary violence, almost totally ignoring Loyalist violence. The campaigns not only chose to elect Republican campaigning as exemplary for paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland, they also ignored a set of other facts. First of all they ignored Loyalist paramilitary violence as equally disruptive. More than this, the reduction of paramilitary violence to one being that of privately led guerrilla groups gloriously ignores the fact that numerous state bodies colluded with various Loyalist paramilitaries to terrorize Catholic communities. All the measures introduced ignorant towards the mentioned facts, sustaining the emphasis on the domination of Republican atrocities within the manifold forms of violence in the conflict. As I have tried to show in the course of this chapter, the pressure and fear of permanent oppression and death for residents in ghetto-like areas in Belfast and Derry encapsulates the potential for the forming of vast individual and collective trauma. In addition the states long term denial of happenings, and the ignorance with which the media treated the manifold problems of Catholics in Northern Ireland complicated many people’s coming to terms with the fear, loss and 45

intimidations they had experienced during the years of the conflict. The next two chapters of my thesis will focus on individual and collective representations of traumatic experience from Northern Ireland’s Troubles.



If anthropology considers lending a voice to the powerless, especially those numbed by violent conflict and the experience of violence, what anthropologists must do is listen, and carry the voices along, be they weak and timid, or strong and outgoing. The Troubles in Northern Ireland have been characterized by a particular richness of stories and testimonies of traumatic experience. Thus, this chapter will provide a basic outline of such stories and experiences, and will try to come to grips with the themes of trauma and suffering. Manifestations of trauma following violent experience or violence related stress were manifold during the Northern Irish conflict. People experienced threats and intimidations from paramilitaries, both from outside their community as well as from within it, from police and army forces, as well as in their working place. Violence invaded people’s everyday lives both in private and public space. Loyalist death squads shot people in their homes, either through windows, or by directly entering the house of the victim, as well as on street corners, or on people’s way home from work or nightly entertainment. People suffered from injury, that shattered and forever altered their daily routines, and people suffered the pain of a loss of a beloved relative or close friend through violence. In many cases traumatic experience estranged people from each other and disrupt families. For some, coming to terms with violence, atrocities and terror was easier than for others. Whereas for some, the conflict defined their entire life, others were able to find anew life after pain and suffering. One such example is Tom Hannon, a Catholic community worker from West Belfast, who recollects the shooting of his daughter in the middle of the 1970s following the loss of his youngest son due to leukaemia:
“The boy died in 1974, and about a year after, a year and a couple of months, my oldest daughter M. was shot and crippled. She was walking up the Grosvenor Road here, coming from the pictures, coming from the cinema with a young fellow. And the car drew up and the gun came out and she saw the gun. That confined her to a wheel chair; she is still confined to a wheelchair. Probably not so much confined as confessed, you know because she has made a good life for herself, lecturing at the University of Coleraine, she is a biomedical scientist. However, but at the same time that was another sort of thing that made us, my wife and I, opposed to this violence” (Tom Hannon, Catholic community worker, West Belfast).


Tom Hannon’s daughter survived the shooting by a supposedly Loyalist death squad. Certainly the daughter’s injury meant a dramatic change to his family’s life, but he underlines that his daughter survived, and that she learned to cope with her handicap. Clearly the daughter overcame her experience of violence and was able to go on with her life, setting out on an interesting career. As the relationships within the family stayed intact, and, because the family was embedded in a local Christian community, they were able to avoid many dangers that trauma has in store for its victims. For others again the experience of violence turned out to be much more devastating. A Catholic woman from North Belfast describes the aftermath of the multiple loss of family members and a serious personal injury from a shooting.
“Sleep was really – it was very hard to sleep. And when I did sleep it was all bad nightmares and very, very bad dreams. Woke up in sweats. It did go on for a while…(…)…I wasn’t sleeping or anything and I’d lost weight. I was always a very thin girl, you know, in my teens. But my weight went right down to seven stone four or something. My hair was falling out. And when I went down to the doctor he told me ”to run away on – I was lucky that my hair didn’t turn white overnight”. And that was the sympathy I got from the doctor. He says, “It will recover itself – it was the shock, you don’t know how lucky you are!” I didn’t need him or anyone else to tell me. But this is all you got. Getting up in the morning and there was bunches of hair and my hair was down to my waist when I was young. It was just lying on the pillow. And I was afraid to wash it. That went on for about a year I think. I can’t remember really. But it did grow back itself, eventually” (Catholic women, North Belfast in Fay, Smyth 2000:12/13).

Clearly the backgrounds of these two excerpts are very different from each other. The first interview excerpt does not reflect violent death imposed by the conflict. Nevertheless it encapsulates pain and suffering within a family. The interviewed person has something that is very important for overcoming traumatic experience: he has a strong background in his community, faith in God and communication with other people in his social environment play a major role in his life. For these reasons he is able to channel his suffering, traumatization does not unfold as in cases such as the second outline, in which we are confronted with multiple bereavement and loss through violence. The interviewed woman was confronted with the aftermath of her experience for a long period of time, as the various losses she had to endure happened over a period of almost a decade. Her life is inextricably linked to the Northern Irish conflict. People who suffer from traumatic encounters often experience a major imbalance in their connection to their social environment. Trauma, as Herman mentions, “impels people both to 48

withdraw from close relationships and to seek them desperately. The profound disruption in basic trust, the common feelings of shame, guilt, and inferiority, and the need to avoid reminders of the trauma that might be found in social life, all foster withdrawal from close relationships” (Herman 2001:56). Traumatization turns people’s daily routines upside down. People loose grip and face isolation, and a necessary reconnection with one’s social environment becomes a sheer insurmountable challenge. Thus, the evolvement of trauma must be understood as a process, and as the descriptions above imply, there is an underlying scheme to the evolvement of trauma, certain stages, levels and lines, along which the process of traumatization manifests itself. The subsequent two chapters of this thesis will therefore seek to outline manifestations of trauma and throw light on the genesis of the phenomena. These observations will be divided into two parts; this first chapter will deal with individual representations of traumatic experience, and will mainly consist of interview excerpts either from my own fieldwork in Northern Ireland or borrow such from the literature. The excerpts will feature some of the events discussed in the previous chapter, and will be embedded in theoretical. A second chapter will then focus on collective representations of traumatic experience. While here again certain events from the Troubles will be featured, they will be mainly embedded in collective expressions, such as mural painting and public discourses linked to relevant political issues within the Northern Irish conflict.

When people experience traumatic events and the subsequent manifestation of trauma their world as they know it is rendered meaningless. Victims find themselves in a state of helplessness. They suffer “damage to the basic structures of the self” and “loose their trust in themselves, in other people and in God” (Herman 2001:56). A Catholic Belfast resident recollects his experience:
“I felt jealous a million times, wishing I could have the life that other people had. I wish I could find it as easy to get up and do the mundane things every day that they were finding easy to do. I couldn’t. I didn’t know the reason why. But the reason why was that I was mentally disturbed because of what I’d seen and the effect it had on me, and the people around me.” (Catholic Belfast resident in Smyth, Fay 2000:106/107)


Trauma jams normality and linked to it a well-engaged system of self-protection (Herman 2001:34). Herman further explains:
“Traumatic reactions occur when action is of no avail. When neither resistance nor escape is possible, the human system of self-defense becomes overwhelmed and disorganized. Each component of the ordinary response to danger, having lost its utility, tends to persist in an altered and exaggerated state long after the actual danger is over. Traumatic events produce profound and lasting changes in physiological arousal, emotion, cognition and memory.” (Herman 2001:34)

This description is particularly true for the context of violent conflict as found in Northern Ireland. The overwhelming number of victims of violence is taken by surprise in the moment of attack, as shootings on street corners or homes by Loyalist paramilitaries exemplify. Thus, many victims describe a state of being frozen on the spot, a moment of paralysation when the attack occurs. The woman in the quotation at the beginning of my introduction to this thesis expresses exactly this sentiment when she states, “I can’t describe the terror that went through me. It was terrifying. The thoughts that came into my mind was that I’m too young to die. I was just frozen on the spot”. The Catholic Belfast resident mentioned above describes a similar situation when he was identifying the corpse of his father, who was murdered by the “Shankill Butchers”, a Belfast Loyalist gang in the middle of the 1970s:
“…I was just dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t cry. I was just trying to take in this sight that was before me, and come to terms with it…(…)…you couldn’t put it into words. I was looking at this thing. It resembled a piece of beef that had been beat with hatches and hammers, and fingers missing and nose stitched back on the face, head caved in, throat cut right back to the spinal cord. I was taking all these details in. You probably go through your whole life and never see a sight like that.” (Smyth, Fay 2000:104)

As Herman also mentions it is impossible to quantify trauma, although there are many varieties to the impact of traumatic experience. In this sense arousal and emotions in general must be seen as one of the most significant factors for the severity of trauma (Herman 2001:34). Traumatic experience profoundly reshapes a person’s “being in the world” (Herman 2001:34). In the following pages I will outline Herman’s division of the phenomena mentioned above into three different categories of manifestation, namely “hyperarousal”, “intrusion” and “constriction”. These symptoms represent the phenomenon known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Also, as will be outlined after the explanation of these three phenomena of PTSD, there is a certain dialectic, which underlies these very symptoms. Also, the disconnection, from which trauma victims suffer in the aftermath of their experience, is a major issue within the dialectic of trauma. After a basic outline of Herman’s work on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I want to 50

provide a different angle to the issue by presenting a brief outline on the discourse of “Social Suffering” (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997), an important contribution from anthropology to the discussion of pain and suffering in relation to violent conflict.

2.1.1. Hyperarousal
The symptom of hyperarousal is the first “cardinal” (Herman 2001:35) symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Judith Lewis Herman describes it as follows:
“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment. Physiological arousal continues unabated” (Herman 2001:35)

Easy startling, irritably reactions to small provocations and poor sleep are named as manifestation of this first stage of PTSD by the author. A Catholic teenage resident from Derry describes the aftermath of prolonged punishment beatings by local paramilitaries:
“…when it gets dark, my nerves would just completely shatter. And when I’m walking anywhere, I just always watch over my shoulder. If somebody sees, and the Provos are about, I get in my head straight away that they are looking for me and I just don’t move until I hear they are away. I just stay and watch, keep watching” (quoted in Symth/Fay 2000:126).

Herman cites Kardiner in mentioning that these neuroses on the first level of trauma must be mainly understood as “physioneurosis”. Kardiner established the theory that symptoms observed in combat veterans, in his case from the First World War, such as “startle reactions, hyperalterness, vigilance for the return of danger, nightmares, and psychosomatic complaints” where a manifestation of the “chronic arousal of the autonomous nervous system” (Herman 2001:35/36). It means, as the author also points out, that traumatic experience reconditions and consequently reshapes the human nervous system. Herman describes these changes as “psychophysiological” (Herman 2001:36). A female Catholic resident of West Belfast remembers the time after the loss of her husband through a paramilitary punishment shooting and implicates pain that most certainly derives from her experience:
“I was thirty at that time and I felt like my life was over. This was it! …(…)…Then I began to get sick myself. I began to get very bad pains in my stomach and I used to wake up at nights in real agony, with very bad pain…(…)…I couldn’t eat. If I ate I was sick…(…)…After my husband’s death, my stomach was constantly tight all the time” (Smyth, Fay 2000:29).


We have also seen that emotions play a major role in the formation of traumatic experience. In this regard the field of cognitive anthropology with the exemplary works of Strauss and Quinn (1997), Reyna (2002), and LeDoux as a neurologist (1998) among a number of other researchers, have shown that emotions have a distinct influence on how experience gets processed and memorized by the human nervous system. Trauma patients, as Herman further explains, do not have “a normal baseline of alert”, but suffer from an “elevated baseline of arousal” that keeps their bodies “always on alert for danger”. As Herman also describes, trauma patients show startle response to unexpected stimuli or specific stimuli they associate with the traumatic event. As such, these patients cannot “tune-out” such repetitive stimuli, and suffer from these on a prolonged basis, which means that they react to each stimulus anew, as if it would represent a new dangerous experience. This condition leads to symptoms as outlined above and also mentioned by the North Belfast woman before, namely severe sleep deprivation. Herman describes that sleep disturbances occur due to constant elevated arousal that persists during sleep as in “the waking state”, and results in the fact that people with PTSD take longer to fall asleep, awake more frequently during sleep and are more sensitive to noise (Herman 2001:36). The Belfast resident, whose father was murdered by the Shankill Butchers further remembers having dreams about his father’s execution:
“I got hardly any sleep at all…(…)…I think I just switched on to autopilot then and tried to detach myself from what I’d seen…(…)…Then a couple of nights into the wake, these thoughts started entering my head. I wondered, before they killed him, “Was he begging them to kill him?” – because he must have suffered terribly…(…)…The nightmares seemed to be based around the part where he was begging for his life…(…)…That was the kind of visions I was having. I had dreams where the hair on my head was standing, the sweat would be just dripping off me” (quoted in Smyth, Fay 2000:104/105).

A woman describes the aftermath of the death of her father, who was fatally wounded in the Monaghan bombing in 1974, dying of his injuries four days after the incident:
“I was very depressed for a long, long time and I wasn’t sleeping. I put it down to post-natal blues, but looking back it was possibly the whole trauma” (Smyth, Fay 2000:85).


2.1.2. Intrusion
The permanent reliving of traumatic events long after the event itself, and as such the intrusion of these into the life of the traumatized person, marks the second level of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People’s daily routines and their normal lives are turned upside down (Herman 2001:37). The traumatic event gets embodied, and becomes “encoded in an abnormal way” which alters the victim’s consciousness and interferes and alters the person’s waking state as well as sleep, and with it, dreams. As Herman emphasizes traumatic memory is not like usual memory, because it gets encoded differently. In this sense traumatic dreams are no ordinary dreams. The environment of the victim changes, and an alienation from the usual social environment takes place. Close ties to family members and friends become estranged; safe surroundings like the home of the victim become unsafe places, because the victim fears reminders of the traumatic event (Herman 2001:37). A North Belfast resident recalls:
“Everybody was wrapped up in their own grief for him. My life totally changed. It was liken the end of family life as we knew it.” (quoted in Smyth, Fay 2000:8).

The Catholic Belfast resident recalls his isolation and estrangement from his family this way:
“And then, when you’re drunk, the frustration seems to get braver and wants to show its face. And it comes out, and it’s the people closest to you that suffer then because your abuse is directed at them, altough they did nothing to deserve it…(…)…I was out with a lot of friends one night and I really enjoyed myself, but I was suffering from severe mood swings. I’d fell out with my wife at the time and was staying with my mother. I remember coming in home, I was drunk and I could see my ma looking at me. She didn’t have to say anything to me, I knew what she was saying to herself, “He’s going to destroy himself.” (quoted in Symth/Fay 2000:106/107)

It is at this point, that the simplest daily routines become obscured by the traumatic experience from which the victim suffers. Herman further outlines that traumatic events are not encoded in verbally, but “in the form of vivid sensations and images”, very much like the experience of little children (Herman 2001:38). Thus she explains:
“(....)... in states of high sympathetic nervous system arousal, the linguistic encoding of memory is inactivated, and the central nervous system reverts to the sensory and iconic forms of memory that predominate in early life” (Herman 2001:39).


As Herman further explains, what may occur in human beings is that “high levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones” deepen the memory traces that get imprinted into the human nervous system, as likely facts have been indicated from a vast number of animal experiments. Thus emotions, as already pointed out before, play a crucial role in the intensity with which traumatic experience is memorized. Herman explains that more recent theories “conceptualize intrusion phenomena, including reenactements, as spontaneous attempts to integrate the traumatic event” (Herman 2001:41), thus she explains in reference to Horowitz:
“The psychiatrist Mardi Horowitz postulates a “completion principle” which “summarizes the human mind’s intrinsic ability to process new information in order to bring up to date the inner schemata of the self and the world.” Trauma, by definition, shatters the “inner schemata.” Horowitz suggests that unassimilated traumatic experiences are stored in a special kind of “active memory”, which has an “intrinsic tendency to repeat the representations of contents.” The trauma is resolved only when the survivor develops a new mental “schema” for understanding what has happened” (Herman 2001:41).

Here Herman traces the impact of the traumatic experience on human mental schemes. Strauss and Quinn (1997) have for their own part referred to the significance of schemes and motives. They argue, that human beings make decisions and react on the basis of certain cultural schemes, which get performed in everyday life, and are based upon embodied experience. By making a decision humans draw from a pool of embodied experience, which is generated and embedded in a complex set of neural connections. Thus, humans connect experience. These schemes Strauss and Quinn argue, are formed and established from earliest childhood onwards (Strauss, Quinn 1997). And as Herman’s outlines show, these theories and findings seem to be mirrored in psychiatry, here in the context of traumatic experience. Other researchers, as Herman explains, put more emphasis on the assumption that declares the “emotional rather than the cognitive experience of the trauma as the driving force of the repetition compulsion” (Herman 2001:41). Cognitive anthropologists, such as Strauss and Quinn (1997), and Reyna (2002) have pointed out that both phenomena are utterly significant in shaping experience, and thus are in fact closely interconnected. Herman finally mentions that because of the “intense emotional distress” that “traumatic experience provokes”, many people try to avoid reenactements of trauma at great lengths. Although this intention appears as a mechanism of self-protection, the avoidance of reliving the trauma often isolates people even more from their social environment, and in consequence only enforces the symptoms of traumatic experience (Herman 2001:42). As many stories from victims 54

of Northern Ireland’s Troubles exemplify, those who talk about the trauma they suffered from, are mostly the ones who are in fact able to confront themselves with their experiences, and deal with the (inter)related difficulties. The Belfast resident, whose father was killed by the Shankill Butchers, reflects on how he was able to deal with his experiences:
“I don’t think I’ll ever put it behind me because it made too much of an impact on my life for me to be able to bury it and put it to the rest for good. I know for a fact there’s going to be times when I’m depressed; there’s going to be times when I’m going to be hard to live with. I know that for a fact, because I’ve been on the swings and roundabouts that long that I know it’s coming around. But hopefully it takes longer each time to come round.” (quoted in Symth/Fay 2000:110)

2.1.3. Constriction
The term constriction refers to a state of numbness, and constitutes the third symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Herman explains as follows:
“When a person is completely powerless, and any form of resistance is futile, she may go into a state of surrender. The system of self-defense shuts down entirely. The helpless person escapes from her situation not by action in the real world but rather by altering her state of consciousness” (Herman 2001:42).

Herman further outlines that these alterations of a victim’s consciousness are the most central phenomena to constriction. As such, the helplessness, which a person might be confronted with in a likely state, not only evokes terror and rage in the victim, but also calm detachment to events that pose severe danger to the affected person. The person will be aware of the happenings but will ultimately experience them as disconnected from his or her ordinary meanings (Herman 2001:42/43). Thus, this person’s sense of time alters, the bodily self-perception changes, and certain out-of-body-experiences may occur in the sense that the victim perceives the happenings as witnessing them from outside his or her body. Herman understands this mechanism as a human’s self-protection from unbearable pain. The Belfast interviewee whose father was murdered by the Shankill Butchers explains this sort of detachment as such:
“I was still trying to stay aloof from it all. It was like something that was surreal. It was as if I was watching something, but I wasn’t actually a part of it. I wasn’t sort of grief stricken at this stage. I think I was still trying to take in what I’d seen.” (Smyth Fay 2000:117)


She further points out that these altered states of consciousness have also been found to be similar to hypnotic trance states. Trance-like states also incorporate features like “surrender of voluntary action, suspension of initiative and critical judgement, subjective detachment or calm, enhanced perception of imagery, altered sensation, including numbness and analgesia” (no feel of pain) “and distortion of reality, including depersonalization, derealization, and a change in the sense of time”. Herman further argues that trance is a “normal property” of human consciousness and that traumatic events “serve as powerful activators of the capacity of trance”. This shifting into a trance-like state of consciousness serves the victim of traumatic experience as a mechanism to “reduce their perception of pain during acute trauma” (Herman 2001:43). The inability of traumatized persons to disassociate themselves from the experienced, tend to seek for similar numbing effects in alcohol or other kinds of narcotics. As alterations of consciousness through narcotics and drugs may help the victim to deal with her experiences in the first place, the abuse of alcohol and drugs prevents the victim to incorporate the experiences into ordinary life, and thus keeps her from a necessary healing process (Herman 2001:45). The Belfast resident recalls his times of alcohol and narcotics abuse:
“I took drinks, tablets, tranquillizers, and Valium. Anything I could get my hands on. Usually drink. The drink would stir it for me up until the first half a dozen pints. Then magnified it after that and all the things that you are trying to get away from just get bigger.” (quoted in Smyth, Fay: 2000:106)

Disorientation, fear, and the ultimate loss of self-esteem are among other symptoms of constriction, that may bring a trauma victim to self-isolation, because the affected person seeks to escape from situations reminiscent of the trauma, or as Herman points out, any initiative or plan making that is focused towards the future, which bears potential of overcoming the experienced (Herman 2001:46/47). The Belfast interviewee further outlines:
“There was that much stuff in my head, I couldn’t say to myself “I’ll tackle A tomorrow and I’ll tackle B on Tuesday.” I couldn’t get anything, everything was just jumbled.” (Smyth, Fay 2000:107)

Explaining these symptoms Herman finally concludes that:
“…(…)…traumatized people deprive themselves of those new opportunities for successful coping that might mitigate the effect of the traumatic experience. Thus, constricitve symptoms, though they may represent an attempt to defend against overwhelming emotional states, exact a high price for whatever protection they afford. They narrow and deplete the quality of life and ultimately perpetuate the effects of the traumtic event.” (Herman 2001:47)


A West Belfast woman, who is the mother of thirteen-year-old M., recalls the aftermath of an accident in which her daughter was hit in the face by a plastic bullet fired by an RUC officer:
“M. can’t sleep at night, so she spends most of the day in bed. I don’t know what she’ll do when school restarts and she has to get up early every morning. She sleeps badly and she has nightmares all the time. She’s very run down as a result of the medicines and the pain-killers she has to take. She spends most of her time watching TV. She used to be out of the house all the time. Now she never goes anywhere. She was a great swimmer and Ulster cross-country champion. She won a lot of medals. Since the accident she hasn’t done any sport. It’s as if something inside her has died.” (Calamati 2002:28)

The two latter symptoms, intrusion and constriction, seem to produce a contradictory response at the first look. Thus, as Herman suggests, there is an underlying dialectic to trauma. She outlines that in the aftermath of an experience of overwhelming danger, the two symptoms begin to establish an oscillating rhythm and adds:
“This dialectic of opposing psychological states is perhaps the most charcteristic feature of the posttraumatic syndromes. Since neither the intrusive nor the numbing symptoms allow for integration of the traumtic event, the alternation between these two extreme states might be understood as an attempt to find a satisfactory balance between the two. But balance is precisely what the traumatized person lacks. She finds herself caught between the extremes of amnesia or of reliving the trauma, between floods of intense, overwhelming feeling and arid states of no feeling at all, between irritable, impulsive action and complete inhibition of action. The instability produced by these periodic alternations further exacerbates the traumatized person’s sense of unpredictability and helplessness. The dialectic of trauma is therefore potentially self-perpetuating” (Herman 2001:47).

She further suggests that this dialectic shifts with the course of time. At first the moments of intrusion and reliving of the traumatic experience with all so far implied symptoms dominate in the first phase that might last from a few days up to a couple of months. After that these symptoms diminish. The traumatic injury itself though can last for a much longer time. In this sense Herman explains, “while specific, trauma related symptoms fade over time, they can be revived, even years after the event, by reminders of the original trauma” (Herman 2001:47/48). Below a mother tells the story of her little daughter, who severely suffered on a prolonged basis from the intimidation by a British soldier in Crossmaglen, who told her to put her hands up and then screamed: “Now I’ll kill you”: 57

“It took a month before I realised that D. was starting to have problems. She wasn’t able to sleep at night. She wet her bed and had frequent nightmares. She would wake up with a start and cry out: “A soldier wants to kill me!” During the day she always stayed close to either my husband or myself. I couldn’t go anywhere without her. She didn’t want to leave the house and watched TV for hours on end. When we had to go out together she always checked to make sure there was no British soldiers in the street. If a patrol came our way I had to hurry her into a shop till it passed by. Whenever she saw the soldiers she used to panic and start crying hysterically. All this went on for about two months. I didn’t know what to do, so I consulted a doctor. He said D. needed some help. So I had to take her to a psychotherapist. During the encounters she tried to get D. to talk and she made her draw a lot. D. kept drawing pictures of a soldier with a gun. She was able to describe his physical appearance and the colour of his uniform clearly. She recalled every detail. These twicemonthly meetings continued for nearly a year. Now nearly six years after the event, D. is still very frightened. It’s the soldiers` uniforms that terrify her. She still feels the same fear of uniforms. We have learned to recognise her reactions, so if she’s out playing in the street and the soldiers enter our area, we go and fetch her into the house. In the past she often talked about what happenend to her. Not any more.” (quoted in Calamati 2002:16)

While intrusive symptoms certainly diminish, they are taken over by the domination of numbing and constrictive symptoms. People may seem to find back closer to their ordinary lifes and daily routines prior to the traumatic event, but as Herman implies the distortion of the perception of their meanings and schemes persists. Constricted persons lack drama as the author suggests. The only excitement and change they infrequently experience is found in the arousal related to intrusive symptoms of traumatic events. Traumatized people fundamentally miss the emotional dynamic that non-traumatized persons experience and engage in. Thus, as the character of such symptoms may be long persisting, they may become mistaken as a part of the character of a person with PTSD. For the affected person this non-recognition of his or her affliction is a painful misunderstanding of the person’s social environment, thus the person is bound to a “diminished life, tormented by memory and bounded by helplessness and fear”. In the long run, as Herman suggests, affected persons may feel that a part of them has died. Subsequent attempts of suicide may follow, and, as Herman explains in the context of traumatized soldiers from the Vietnam War, the potential of suicide poses a significant problem in the context of long term suffering from PTSD. (Hermann 2001:49/50).

As the presented research by Herman has clearly implied, trauma and the manifold symptoms related to it, bring with it a massive and in many cases prolonged experience of pain and 58

suffering. This notion has also been reflected in anthropological writing, namely in the theoretical body of work around “Social Suffering”. The protagonists of this field within anthropology, anthropologists Arthur Kleinman, Veena Das, and Margaret Lock have published a body of work that deals with the widespread notions of suffering in the context of everyday social problems that include health care, serious illness, political violence, and violence as represented in the media (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997). Moreover they scrutinize the subjective experience of violence and human agency within it, which persons affected by violence get entangled in (Das, Kleinman, Ramphele, Reynolds 2000). A third topic within this body of work is the focus on healing and the remaking of everyday life in the aftermath of violent experience (Das, Kleinman, Lock, Ramphele, Reynolds 2001). The term “Social Suffering” recognizes socio-economic factors, such as job market problematics, a poor and insufficient health care, and the non recognition of these shortcomings by responsible authorities as highly relevant for the production of individual and collective pain, suffering, and trauma. Thus, Social Suffering acknowledges the problems outlined in chapter 1, where I argued that the state imposed a state terror like system of measures mainly on Catholic residents in Northern Ireland. The repressive actions that emanated from these measures kept people in fear of violence, under permanent threat of murder, and under constant surveillance and punishment. This establishment of a culture of terror and the creation of spaces of death (Taussig 1987) in itself must be considered as traumatic. The vigilance and the permanent alert from sudden arrest or death for residents of ghetto like areas in Belfast must be seen as a hotbed the production of massive trauma. Suffering according to Kleinman, Das and Lock, is a fundamental human experience that becomes social in the sense, that human suffering shapes and reshapes the social worlds we act and live in. Their argumentation brings together a set of topics and theories, which transcend seemingly insurmountable boundaries between social- and cultural anthropology and natural and medical sciences. Social Suffering, much like Herman’s outlines, tries to provide an idea of “what is at stake in human experiences of political catastrophe and social structural violence” and “imperialistic and post-imperialistic oppression (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:xi). In this sense Social Suffering recognizes the wider context of trauma that regards political and socio-economic shortcomings a root for prolonged suffering, which „destabilizes established categories“ (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:ix). Thus the authors argue that “trauma, pain and disorders to which atrocity gives rise are 59

health conditions; yet they are also political and cultural matters” (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:ix). Kleinman’s, Das’ and Lock’s idea of suffering transcends established categories that postulate suffering as an individual and therefore isolated experience. The authors argue that it is impossible to “separate individual from social levels of analysis, health from social problems, representations from experience, suffering from intervention” (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:x). Suffering can be both individual and collective at the same time (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:x), an argument that has informed especially chapert 1 of my thesis. The authors further recognize a historical process in suffering, in the sense that “historically shaped rationalities and technologies”, meaning socio-economic circumstances, metamorphose “existential processes of pain, death and mourning”. Such “historically shaped rationalities” they argue, are “all too regularly inattentive to how the transformations they induce contribute to the suffering they seek to remedy (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:x). This observation is especially relevant in the case of Northern Ireland, where public institutions were not only “inattentive” to the problematics of Catholic residents in Ulster, but also willingly influenced and manipulated legislation concerning public policies regarding housing, the labour market and the right to cultural self-representation. The possibilities of cultural self-representation posed for the longest time one of the great dichotomies between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. The most significant marker sin this regard are political mural paintings; their importance for the expression of collective trauma will be discussed in chapter 3 of this thesis. Such “cultural representations of suffering”, the authors outline, may include images (murals, graffiti and photographs), prototypical tales (myths and discourses within each community) and models (ideas) “that can be (and frequently are) appropriated in the popular culture or by particular social institutions for political and moral purposes” (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:xi). Another thematic, which the concept of Social Suffering focuses on, is the medialization of violence and suffering, and how the media shapes and reshapes pain and suffering in a wider public context. Conflicts, Kleinman, Das and Lock argue, are transformed from regional and national disasters to transnational tragedies that are “seen” and “felt” as part of the stream of everyday experience in the intimacy of homes thousands of miles away, at a safe distance. Television transforms the very perception of whole conflicts. The pain and suffering of the victims gets literally channelled, and becomes and abstract reality in millions of homes around the world (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997:xii). Suffering and pain become a commodity, a currency. The “real” revolution though, as Gil Scott Heron has proclaimed more than two decades ago, will not be televised. The real pain, the real suffering, the actual trauma of events happens elsewhere and 60

often gets censored by broadcasting companies. Suffering therefore is sold to the public, and modelled to the demands of the agents and perpetrators who are responsible for policies that inflict pain, suffering and prolonged trauma. In this chapter I have been trying to argue towards a unified analysis of pain and suffering in relation to violent conflict. With the help of the outlines of Herman, Kleinman, Das and Lock I have tried to transcend the traditional boundaries in anthropology that seemingly sets our discipline apart from natural and medical sciences, and instead offered a broader, even comprehensive view on human pain and suffering. As I have primarily focused on individual experiences of trauma within this chapter, the following chapter of my thesis will shift attention to collective trauma and relevant expresses in relation to it in Northern Ireland. How these expressions are presented, thus becoming representations of collective trauma, what they say, and how they differ between the Catholic and the Protestant community in Northern Ireland will be discussed in the following pages.



In this third chapter of my thesis I will focus on manifestations and expressions of collective traumatic experience in Northern Ireland. The presentations within this chapter, as all other chapters of this thesis, can of course not claim to be either a fully comprehensive or an exhaustive account of the problematics around collective trauma and violence, neither in general nor in regard to the situation in Northern Ireland. The outlines here will rather follow the goal to provide a notion of what I believe can be considered as exemplary discourses within the relevant thematic of collective trauma and violence and related visual manifestations. The following outlines will be divided in two parts. The first will provide a short discussion of the terms “collective trauma” and “collective violence” and their relation to the Northern Irish conflict. The second part will then trace public manifestations of collective trauma, and will show that mural paintings, both Catholic/Nationalist ones and Protestant/Unionist, provide valid examples for the manifestations of collective trauma within each community. Here again my presentation will be divided into the mural tradition of each community. My outlines on Catholic/Nationalist murals will strongly focus on the theme of the Republican Hunger Strikes in the early 1980s, which were nnot only initial boost for Catholic artists to massively engage in the painting of political murals, but also because the Hunger Strikes with their tragic outcome represent one of the most significant themes for resistance and collective trauma of the Catholic/Nationalist community until today. The outlines around Protestant/Unionist mural painting will relate collective resistance and trauma on the part of the Protestant community to the armed struggle of the Irish Republican movement and the loss of identity within the wider context of the Unionist movement. This loss of identity set off a sustained process of collective traumatization. In addition to this notion, I will also outline the social implications for the Protestant/Unionist community through the ongoing Peace Process in Northern Ireland.


The anthropological literature on collective trauma following massive outbreaks of violence still is not as established as it may appear at times. A glimpse through various recent anthropological readers (see for example Moore, Sanders 2006) shows that anthropology does not yet necessarily regard the anthropology of violence and conflict a vital part of its tradition. Thus, one may regard the theoretical debate on collective violence as marginal within the huge variety of discourses in anthropology. The topic though is steadily gaining importance, not at least due to the increasing presence of conflicts in the media. Though seemingly still on the marginality of the anthropological tradition, discourses within the anthropology of violence and conflict have produced a steady output of ethnographies and theoretical literature in the field of the anthropology of violence and conflict in the last 25 years. Chapter 2 has discussed some perspectives on individual trauma and suffering in Northern Ireland such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Social Suffering. As such, the chapter has mostly drawn its theoretical outlines from a background that is obviously closer to the tradition of psychoanalysis, than to anthropology. This is mostly due to the circumstance that trauma research within psychology has always put a stronger emphasis on individual trauma than on collective perspectives. The tradition of trauma research within anthropology on the other hand, has been better known for focusing on collective suffering in the aftermath of massive violence (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000:11/12). Clearly there is a strong relation between the two perspectives. In this sense Robben and SuárezOrozco in their introduction to their volume “Cultures under Siege” (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000) ask wether massive or collective trauma is more than the sum total of the individual suffering of a people (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000:24). Robben and Suárez-Orozco acknowledge individual suffering as a significant part of massive collective trauma, but argue that the collective notion of trauma and suffering generally dominates the individual perspective (2000:24). In the light of manifestations of trauma and suffering in Northern Ireland I would put these two perspectives on a level of equal importance. The Northern Irish conflict is characterized both by a massive outpour of individual narratives on traumatic experience as well as a huge variety of public manifestations of expressions of massive collective trauma. I would argue that both collective and individual aspects of trauma are equally decisive, and in fact interrelated. Individual traumatic experience always manifests itself 63

within a certain political discourse, for example in relation to the source that inflicted the suffering upon the individual. A victim fatally wounded through a plastic bullet of a member of the security forces might see herself as the victim of state policies that generated the use of such equipment and the fatal action of the police or the army. The victim might transfer her individual suffering to the level of a wider public discourse and might engage in collective protests against the use of rubber bullets. The suffering of a prison inmate on Hunger Strike may become emblematic for the suffering of a whole community. As such individual suffering can be exemplary. A popular example is the struggle of Bobby Sands, who was interned as an IRA activist and the first Republican prisoner dying on Hunger Strike as an elected Member of Parliament. Thus, the individual experience of trauma can define and shape a collective expression of trauma and suffering. Sands counterfeit and his struggle on Hunger Strike was painted and depicted on numerous murals throughout Northern Ireland. On the other hand, collective trauma finds its articulation not only in public spheres, but also in private and individual narratives, as I have tried to exemplify in the previous chapter. When we employ terms like “massive and collective trauma” we must see that this terminology is closely linked to the topic of “collective violence”. Thus the question: does collective trauma only emanate out of collective violence? Of course collective violence strongly implicates a massive collective trauma, nevertheless collective and “individual” agency of violence is strongly interrelated. Individual acts of violence may become the spark that ignites collective outbreaks of violence, riots, lootings, burnings or evictions, internment, interrogation and torture, coordinated political killings, and resistance and suffering that may become the collective theme of a community in their fight against an imperialistic hegemony. Violence becomes collective when it polarizes different communities and parties against each other. It becomes collective when, as Robben and Suárez-Orozco have outlined “it targets not only the body and the psyche of individuals, but also the socio-cultural order of social groups and cultural formations” (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000:1). In this sense, collective violence and collective trauma, as both authors further suggest, cannot be reduced to a single level of analysis. The outlines around Social Suffering strongly underline that position, in that they argue that collective trauma and suffering is shaped by a wide array of socio-political determinants (Kleinman, Das, Lock 1997). Collective trauma of course indicates social and cultural processes, which cannot be reduced to the term “suffering” alone. Suffering is only the meta-term for manifold processes of coming to 64

terms with experienced violence. Various examples from other countries like Argentina (Robben 1995, 2000, 2005) Guatemala (Green 1999) South Africa (Ramphele 1997, Ross 2001), Mozambique (Nordstrom 1997), Sri Lanka (Daniel 1996) and Cambodia (Chandler 1999) have shown that mourning, remembering and reconciliation are a vital part of the management of collective trauma and subsequent healing. The processes of mourning and remembering by victims of massive outbreaks of collective violence seek to keep their experience and their suffering on the agenda of the institutions, which inflicted it upon them. Cultures of mourning and remembering, as established and practiced by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, seek to re-establish a climate of “basic trust” in institutions and authorities. They are in search of certainty about the remains of their disappeared relatives, about their circumstances of their disappearance. They need certainty of their death and of their bodies as in the case of women in Guatemala. When a state engages in terrorizing its citizens, the reality of individuals and communities is turned upside down. Basic trust is lost, when “social institutions and cultural practices that structure experience and give meaning to human lives” are shattered (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000:5). The understanding of trauma, be it on an individual or a collective scale, always has something unspeakable and incomprehensible. The unspeakable side of the trauma is found on the side of the victims, the incomprehensible part may be found on the side of the anthropologist engaged in working on massive trauma and collective violence. This dilemma was pointed out by all authors working on trauma and collective violence, which I presented so far. Thus, Robben outlines that:
“Perhaps the most serious paradox we face is an awareness that massive trauma is in important ways inherently incomprehensible. Cathy Caruth has wisely argued argued that traumatic events are by definition incomprehensible because partial forgetting is a defining characteristic of trauma. This inability of the traumatized person to recover fully from the traumatic event, and the failure to integrate the “uncanny” experiences into consciousness may be logically extended into literature and science” (Robben/SuárezOrozco 2000:7).

Here I partly disagree with Robben, who proclaims an “inability of the traumatized person to fully recover from the traumatic event” and thus concludes that therefore anthropological writing is limited to a certain extent in fully grasping the problematic about trauma. For one part, this remark is not quite correct in the sense that Herman (2001) and various other authors working on trauma do not categorically rule out the full recovery from a traumatic experience. Also the recovery and healing process from massive traumatic experiences is not always as obvious as 65

anthropology and psychoanalysis would want them to be. This means that such processes stretch over a long period of time, sometimes a life long period. For the other part the question that we have to ask in my opinion is, whether it is the job of anthropology or psychoanalysis to fully understand trauma in order to be able to either make the recovery for the traumatised person or community possible, or to make a valid statement within anthropology. As anthropologists we can pose the question from a different angle: What is it that helps a traumatized person or community to recover, what ignites a healing process? The question is probably not so hard to answer. Recovery and healing, as all presented authors working on trauma and suffering within this work have argued (Robben 2000; Herman 2001; Kleinman, Das and Lock 1997), is closely related to the recognition of the problematics of individuals and communities in regard to traumatic experience. Healing is positively influenced by lending an ear to the victims of trauma, by acknowledging the pain and the suffering, and by making possible and recognizing their communication as a valid expression of their experiences to the outer world. This task, as I have already argued at the beginning of the previous chapter, can and should be fulfilled by anthropology. Many times also, communities affected by collective violence and massive trauma may claim a piece of public space themselves. This happens especially when the expression of a collective trauma becomes a form of resistance, a channel of communication, and sometimes a distinct marker for the self-representation of a community. In this context Robben and Suárez-Orozco pose another question, which is decisive for the content of this chapter, namely how collective violence and mourning are “encoded in cultural narratives” and how such narratives are “psychologically implicated in the transgenerational workings of trauma” (Robben/SuárezOrozco 2000:3). They further ask how “cultural formations, including symbols, folk models, and rituals” are “mobilized to inscribe resist, and heal trauma” (Robben/Suárez-Orozco 2000:3). In the case of Northern Ireland such cultural narratives manifest themselves in the form of popular public expressions of massive trauma and collective violence, namely in the form of mural paintings. Murals, as “cultural responses to the traumatic effects of political violence” are the most significant markers of resistance and self-representation in Northern Ireland and thus “often transform the local idioms of victims into universal professional languages of complaint and restitution – and thereby remake both representations and experiences of suffering” (Kleinman, Das and Lock 1997:X).


Political murals in Northern Ireland can be considered as probably the most significant public manifestations of the conflict between the two major ethnic communities of the province. Catholic murals, as Sluka remarks, “are an expression of the “culture of resistance”, while Protestant murals are a reactionary product of a dominant or hegemonic culture” (Sluka 1992:190). Also the practice of painting murals was for a long time an ultimate expression of the domination of Protestants over Catholic cultural practices; thus the history of mural painting is quite different between the two communities. The quantitative imbalance in mural painting must be seen in relation to the passing of certain laws, which for the longest time discriminated Catholics from freely exercising their part of cultural self-representation. One of them, and the most significant, was the Flags and Emblems act passed by the Unionist regime in 1954, which “prohibited the public display of the Irish tricolour on the grounds that it might offend people” (Sluka 1992:196). When Catholic murals experienced their first heyday in the early 1980s, this act was still in effect (it was cancelled only in 1986), and thus, as Sluka further points out, it was “a punishable offence to fly a tricolour or paint one on a wall during the Hunger Strike in 1981” (Sluka 1992:196). The flying of the Irish tricolour can still be considered an act of resistance within the Catholic/nationalist community in Northern Ireland. During my fieldwork I witnessed various examples of such ongoing resistance. One case was a flying tricolour on the top level of an apparently Catholic/Nationalist flat block in West Belfast (see Pl. 4). The is flown as an act of resistance, an additional mural refers to an IRA volunteer, apparently imprisoned, is obviously meantas a protest against the non recognition of political prisoners. The political and cultural significance of murals themselves has long been crudely underrated. The awareness of the significance of murals as valid expressions of collective trauma has only recently established in both academic and non-academic circles. Rolston (1992) points out that art historians and journalists familiar with the paintings in Northern Ireland diminished them on the grounds that they either did not consider them as political art, or regarded them merely as “colourful backdrops”. Social scientists on the other hand have simply ignored them for the longest time (Rolston 1992:i). Such viewpoints, as so many other observations on the Northern Irish conflict, utterly ignore of the deep rooted girevances that underlie the painting of political murals, both among Catholics as 67

well as Protestants. Most significantly though, as Rolston further remarks, “the legitimacy of the murals, and in particular Republican murals, is denied by the state and its forces” (Rolston 1992:i).

Pl. 4: West Belfast 2003. An Irish tricolour flying on a rooftop in support of an interned IRA volunteer.

3.2.1 Protestant Mural Painting: The Beginnings
Protestant mural painting, and with this the tradition of Northern Irish murals in general, was established in the early 20th century. The first mural was painted in Belfast around 1908 (Rolston 1992:i). Other old murals, by now around the age of almost 80 years, can be found in the city of Derry (Sluka 1992:194). Particularly up from the time of the establishment of the Orange State of Northern Ireland in 1921, but also before, Protestant murals became a statement of domination over the Catholic minority of the province. The most common theme then, and still very popular up to recent times, was the depiction of King William III, better known as William Orange. The image dates back to the most significant event in the history of the North of Ireland, namely the Battle of the Boyne, in which William Orange faced and defeated the Catholic forces of James II in 1690. The mural images of King William III (Pl. 1), or in popular Protestant jargon “King Billy” often also relate to the lifting of the Siege of Derry, another important event that predates the Battle of 68

the Boyne by two years; both events are significant for the fostering of Protestant hegemony in Ulster (Rolston 1992:i). As such, the importance of Protestant murals, as Sluka points out, lies in their ritual significance in relation to the massive Orange marches that are organised around “the Twelfth”, the 12th of July, the date of the Battle of the Boyne (Sluka 1992:194), and thus the most important celebration for Protestants in Northern Ireland. Other visual markers in this context are the lighting of huge bonfires in the aftermath of the marches, and the painting of curbstones in the colours of the British Flag, the Union Jack (Sluka 1992:194); the latter practice though is not only restricted to the time around “the Twelfth”, but is common around any time of the year. Painted curbstones, such as pictured in plate 6, are a significant marker of the respective identity of a quarter’s residents. On streets that divide a Protestant from a Catholic neighbourhood, curbstones are often painted in the colours of the flags of the respective community.

Pl. 5: Shankill terrace, West Belfast 2003. A typical King Billy mural.

Protestant not only depict politically significant events but also other historical episodes like the sinking of the Titanic, which was built in Belfast, or the heavy losses that Ulster battalions suffered in the Battle of the Somme in World War I. The painting of Protestant murals dramatically decreased with the introduction of Direct Rule in the early 1970s, and thus with the loss of a local Orange parliament in Ulster (Rolston 1992:ii). According to Rolston “the mural 69

painters faced the stark dilemma of painting monuments to the state in the absence of Unionist control over the state” (Rolston 1992:ii). Thus the heyday of Protestant mural painting, as Sluka remarks, was during the years between World Wars I and II. This period of time can be considered the first phase in the tradition Protestant/Unionist murals, whereas the paintings diminished at the beginning of the 1970s and only significantly resurfaced in the middle of the 1980s. This was partly due to the frustrating implications of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985) for the Protestant/Unionist community. Whereas early murals were commemorative and depicted the domination of Protestants over Catholics with a wide absence of paramilitary imaging, this changed during the second phase of Protestant mural painting from the middle of the 1980s onwards (Sluka 1992:210). More about this a little later in the chapter.

Pl.6: off the City Wall, Derry 2003. Painted curbstones and lampposts, and street signs in a Protestant area.

3.2.2. Catholic Mural Painting
Catholic mural painting can be divided into a number of different phases. Sluka identifies four such phases in Catholic/Nationalist mural painting: a first preliminary phase of graffiti, the second phase of Hunger Strike murals, a third phase of Armed Struggle murals and a fourth with the depiction of Party-Political Murals (Sluka 1992). Due to the time of writing of Sluka’s article, one must at least add two more phases of Nationalist mural painting, the fifth being murals of the 70

ceasefire period from 1994 to 1998 and sixth phase of Peace Process and transition murals, which represent the current state of affairs in Northern Ireland. The First Phase: Ornate Graffiti And The Gaelic Revival As indicated before the tradition of Catholic, or Republican, murals is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Flags and Emblems act from 1956 kept Catholics from painting murals up until the late 1970s. The beginning of the Republican/Nationalist mural tradition is thus closely tied to a series of events that bear the ultimate sings of a massive collective trauma, namely the prison protests of the late 1970s that culminated in the Hunger Strikes of 10 Republican inmates in the high security prison of Long Kesh (popularly termed “the Maze”) in 1981 (Rolston 1992:V; Sluka 1992:196). Before this period only two Nationalist murals are known to have existed, both in the Ardoyne area in Belfast (Sluka 1992:195). Thus the period of late 1970s can be considered significant for the ignition of a series of movements and events that expressed the suffering of Catholics during the conflict. As Sluka mentions, “since the outbreak of the current “troubles” in 1969, Nationalist culture has thrived in the Catholic ghettos. There has been a cultural revival or renaissance in Catholic/Nationalist identity. Most notably, there has been a revival in the Irish language” (Sluka 1992:196). This cultural revival originated not, as Sluka further points out, in the Catholic ghettos, but in prisons, mostly in the “Maze”, at the time the biggest political prison in Northern Ireland (Sluka 1992:196). The reviva of Gaelic, the Irish language, thus was a form of resistance against the harassment from prison guards (Feldman 1991), most of whom were not able to understand Gaelic. Republican inmates spent their time in jail “learning Gaelic and Irish folk music and making cultural crafts and artefacts” among which were “handkerchiefs painted with felt tip pens, woodcarving, and leatherwork exhibiting Celtic designs” which used the common symbology of the Irish tricolour, the harp and the Phoenix, mythical Republican symbols also used by the IRA (Sluka 1992:196). The prison protests ran through different stages. One took the form of the denial to wear prison uniforms, instead wearing bed-sheets, thus widely known as the blanket protests and the inmates as “Blanketmen”. More drastic measures included what became known as the “Dirty-Protest”, the smearing of the inmates’ feces across the prison walls (Feldman 1991). These protests already produced a number of significant graffiti in support of the prisoners. As Rolston points out, these increased in the late 1970s and became “ornate, accompanied by flags, coffins, and “H” to depict the H-Blocks” (Rolston 1992:iii/iv), the form of the prison complexes 71

in which inmates were being kept under detention. Thus it was a logical step from these increasingly complex graffiti to the first proper mural paintings (Rolston 1992:iv). Another factor that enforced Nationalist mural painting besides the close relation to the prison protests was a Community Arts scheme initiative sponsored by the Belfast City Council between 1977 and 1981. It was the first real experience for residents of Nationalist areas of the practice of Nationalist mural painting. The initiative finally produced over forty murals in different Nationalist districts in Belfast (Sluka 1992:197). Thus the years from 1977 until 1981 with the Community Arts initiative and the massive revival of Gaelic culture with the surfacing of the first graffiti can be considered the first and preliminary phase to the Hunger Strike murals that were produced from 1981 onwards.

Pl.7: off the Falls Road, West Belfast 2003. A Bobby Sands commemoration mural. The Second Phase: Hunger Strike Murals The Hunger Strikes in Northern Irish prisons, carried out by both male and female Republican inmates can be considered the “original raison d’etre” for the painting of murals in the 72

Catholic/Nationalist community (Sluka 1992:202). As Rolston remarks “in the spring and summer of 1981 hundreds of murals were painted”, with the two main themes of the Hunger Strikes and the armed struggle of the IRA (Rolston 1992:iv). Their artistic repertoire often reflected current discourses within the community.

Pl.8: Hugo Street, West Belfast 2003. Local St. James protesters in support of the 1981 Hunger Strikes.

The Hunger Strikes themselves became one of the most significant discourses within the Republican movement, as they reflected the last stage of the suffering of the 7 IRA and 3 INLA inmates that finally died in the course of the protest. The decision of the inmates to go on Hunger Strike was an expression of the complete denial of the states’ legitimacy to exercise power over the bodies of the Republican inmates, who were fighting for their recognition as political prisoners (or POW’s = Prisoners of War). Thus related murals became an ultimate expression of the collective trauma and resistance of the Catholic/Nationalist community. The Blanketmen’s decision to go on Hunger Strike must be considered a conscious and a wellorganised decision. In the words of Allen Feldman, this reads as follows:


“The Blanketmen viewed the 1981 Hunger Strike as a military campaign and organized it as such. For them, it was a modality of insurrectionary violence in which they developed their bodies as weapons. They fully expected a coupling of this act of self-directed violence with mass insurrectionary violence outside the prison. These two forms of violence were seen as semantically and ethically continuous. Thus, despite its surface similarity to the nonviolent and pacifist protests associated with Ghandi or Martin Luther King, the Hunger Strike in the H-Blocks was not a pacifist or religious action. For the Blanketmen, the 1981 Hunger Strike involved none of the moral superiority or obligations of a turn away from violence. It was a prelude to violence. This was a result of both self-conscious ideological decisions and the performative, but equally ideological, conditioning by the violence inherent in the H-Block situation” (Feldman 1991:220).

Yet, as Feldman further outlines, it was the pacifist and religious iconography “surrounding the 1981 Hunger Strike”, mostly in the form of murals, which gained it “wide popular support and sympathy through Ireland and the international community” (Feldman 1991:220). Bobby Sands can be considered the figurehead of the Republican Hunger Strike, as he was the first of ten Republican inmates (7 IRA and 3 INLA) to die on Hunger Strike. Only weeks before Sands’ death he was elected a Member of Parliament as representative of Sinn Féin. As both an IRA and Sinn Féin activist, Sands was an exemplary intellectual within the more political ranks of the IRA and the greater Republican movement. Murals depicting Sands often present him with references to texts he had written for the Republican movement and published in the Republican periodical “An Phoblacht” (Republican News) under two pseudonyms, one of them “The Lark” (Sluka 1992:198). One of his articles was called “The Lark and the Freedom Fighter” and it contained lines, which would become famous through their use on various Hunger Strike and Bobby Sands murals through the North. The short excerpt exemplifies the pain and suffering that the Hunger Strikers were going through, as their suffering became self-consciously emblematic for the Catholic/Nationalist community in Northern Ireland. The line reads as follows: “I have been starved, beaten, and tortured, and like the lark, I fear I may eventually be murdered. But, dare I say it, similar to my little friend, I have the spirit of freedom that cannot be quenched” (Sands in Sluka 1992:199). The mural in plate 7 shows Sands with two other of his quotes, both referring to the resistance of Republicans and the Nationalist community as a whole against British hegemony and Unionist rule in Northern Ireland. The quotes read: “Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their own particular role to play” and “…Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” (Sands: unknown date). The mural depicts him with a broad sympathetic smile, surrounded by chains, which are broken both by a Phoenix and a Lark. Between the wings of the Phoenix, a Republican


symbol, one can read a Gaelic “Saoirse”, which means “Freedom”. Two angels sitting on two Irish harps also flank Sands’ portrait.

Pl. 9: off the Falls Road, West Belfast 2003. A commemoration mural for female prisoners in Armagh.

As was already indicated by Feldman’s quote from above and can also be seen in the here presented murals, the 1981 Hunger Strike gained massive public support among the Catholic/Nationalist community in Northern Ireland. Plate 8 serves a good example. All people unite in support, from young to old, from Republican Paramilitaries to Nationalist civilians, women and men stand together in their protest and their support alike. Above the group rests an H with the unchained figure of Jesus Christ, an example for the religious allusions that painters included in their iconographic illustrations, as is referred to by Feldman quoted above. All of the here presented murals were photographed in the midst of the peace process in Northern Ireland. Whereas all the murals presented here still existed during my fiedlwork in 2003 and 2005, the greatest part of them was painted as a commemoration for the Hunger Strikers in 1981. As pointed out before, the pain and suffering of prison inmates in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh and female Republican prisoners in the cells of Armagh prison became emblematic for the suffering and the resistance for the Nationalist community as a whole. The significance of the events is not least mirrored in the sheer number of commemoration murals that emerged around the year 2001. Plate 9 shows a mural in reference to the female protests in Armagh prison in 1980. There, female Republican inmates, as their male counterparts in Long Kesh, were fighting for the 75

recognition as political prisoners. Whereas in the H-Blocks in Long Kesh inmates were denied the wearing of their own clothes, this was granted to women in Armagh. Thus protests in Armagh were laid out differently. After a series of cell raids, painful stripsearches and a sustained work protest (Aretxaga 1997, 2001), the women engaged in a Dirty Protest on their part. Aretxaga explains:
“For more than one year thirty-two women, the majority of whom were under twenty-four years of age, lived in tiny cells without washing themselves, amid their own menstrual blood and bodily waste. Infections were rampant, and skin, sight, digestive, and hearing problems were common. Like their male comrades in Long Kesh, the women in Armagh were protesting against the British attempt to criminalize them.” (Aretxaga 1997:122)

The here mentioned suffering emblematically exemplifies a massive collective traumatic experience and thus a trauma of the Catholic/Nationalist community. Stories of torture and mistreatment quickly found their way out of the prison through various channels (Feldman 1991; Sluka 1992; Aretxaga 1997). They were passed on by individuals, in families, in communities, and in the case of this chapter most significantly, on a larger political level within the Republican movement and on an international level of protest. As Sluka mentions, almost everybody in the Nationalist community in Northern Ireland knew a friend or even a relative who was imprisoned in Long Kesh, Armagh, or one of the other prisons in the province (Sluka 1992:196/197). The outlines from the preceding pages also show, what Taussig might have called a “Culture of Terror” and a “Space of Death” (Taussig 1987). Such spaces of death were created by the state through internment, interrogation, imprisonment, strip searches, torture, isolation, physical and psychological intimidation on a sustained level, and other forms of punishment. The state, as Feldman (1991) observes, taking up a central idea of Foucault, used the body of prisoner as a political surface to perform itself on. The prisoners’ bodies thus got instrumentalized. The state performed total control over the political body of the prisoner, as well as over the biological body, by telling the prisoner when to eat, sleep, and use a toilet and by depriving him of any sense of space and time. Thus also the theme of H-Blocks provides another vital theme for visual markers of collective trauma (plate 10). The collective trauma, which mainly the Catholic/Nationalist community in Northern Ireland was suffering from, was ultimately imposed through the state by creating a Culture of Terror through fear and intimidation, harm and serious injury, loss and deprivation, and the fear of sudden death either of the own person or a close friend or relative.


Pl. 10: Falls Road, West Belfast 2003. An H-Block memorial including all ten Hunger Strikers. The Third And Fourth Phase: After these longer outlines around the 1981 Hunger Strike and related issues, I now want to briefly focus on the remaining phases of mural paintings within the Catholic/Nationalist tradition. The third and the fourth phase mainly focus around murals propagating the armed struggle and Sinn Féin party politics, as well as a significant number of resistance and protest murals, which employ issues such as the use of plastic bullets (plate 11), the British military presence, the Collusion between police and army forces with Loyalist paramilitaries and similar issues. Even though murals decreased after the Hunger Strike, they became more artistic, and thus their production more professional. Many artists were directly working for Sinn Féin, and due to this party political issues were becoming more and more common by the middle of the 1980s (Sluka 1992:202-204). Murals referring to the armed struggle of the IRA often depicted armed guerrillas firing weapons or preparing ambushes, and as Sluka points out, such murals were “often painted in direct response to contemporary events” (Sluka 1992:204). As we will see murals referring to 77

the struggle of the Republican movement and most of the so far outlined topics stretch up until more recent times in Northern Ireland.

Pl. 11: Whiterock Road, West Belfast 2003. A Protest mural against the use of plastic bullets by the Security Forces. The Fifth and Sixth Phase The period of the ceasefires that were declared in 1994 put most themes in Republican mural paintings literally on hold. The infamous “Sniper at Work” thus was given a little extension that made the sign read “Sniper on Hold”. The Republican struggle per se did not loose significance in the murals around this period though. The call for the end of the British army presence in Northern Ireland became louder through slogans such as “Time for Peace, Time to Go” with a white dove flying a British soldier out of Northern Ireland by his shoulders (plate 12), and demands for the reaching of a peace accord were formulated. Another theme that had been a common discourse within the Republican movement was reemphasised through the depiction in a series of murals, namely the siding with freedom struggles


Pl. 12: Whiterock Road, West Belfast 2003: Time for Peace, Time to Go.

Pl. 13: Falls Road, West Belfast 2003: Republican mural propagating solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.


in other parts of the world. As such the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel (pl. 13), the struggle of the ANC in South Africa, the ETA campaign in the Basque Country and hungerstrikes in Turkish prisons can be named as the most significant examples. Murals also experienced a transition in style, becoming a lot more contemporary in design through the years of the Peace Process. A good example for such change is the mural in plate 14.

Pl. 14: Falls Road, West Belfast 2005. A Sinn Féin graffito mural.

In general the current phase of murals and graffiti in Northern Ireland employs thematics that have been on the agenda of muralists for the past 25 years. This does not necessarily mean that the current phase in the self-representation of the Catholic/Nationalist community makes a step backwards in their argumentations. Rather some of the issues presented are still pressing in present times. As I have tried to outline in the beginning of this chapter, the re-establishment of basic trust, and thus the establishment of a climate of reconciliation are mandatory for the mastering of still unsolved issues in the dispute between Catholics and Protestants. Though such reconciliation efforts are well underway in the Northern Irish Peace Process, there nevertheless is still a lack of official acknowledgement for the suffering that has been inflicted upon Catholics in 80

the province. Thus there is still a struggle for recognition. Catholic districts in Belfast and Derry are full with manifestations of calls for recognition and justice. As such the demand for the decriminalisation of Republican goals is a very significant issue (plate 15), as is the still relevant problematic of Protestant marches through Catholic areas (plate 18).

3.2.3. A Look At The Current Situation
I want to close this chapter with a few images I consider emblematic for an ongoing production of pain, suffering and collective trauma in everyday Northern Ireland. A walk through Belfast or Derry delivers numerous examples of the ongoing psychological pressure and harassment of residents of these cities, which is caused by the ongoing presence of Army and Security Forces and their coordinated everyday performances in the public eye. Constant surveillance through cameras and helicopters circling in the sky are a common image in Belfast and Derry (plates 1 and 17). Cameras and helicopters as such, are a common feature all across Great Britain, but they undeniably have a totally different connotation in the context of the younger history of Northern Ireland. Reminders of the past are omni-present in certain areas of cities. The occupation of the British Army of the upper levels of Divis Tower and the entrance to the Falls area in West Belfast is a seemingly silent, but certainly not blind remainder of days, when physical violence was a common presence on the streets of cities like Belfast and Derry. The rooftop of the tower is still plastered with surveillance gear of all sorts, mostly antennas and cameras. The visual appearance of police stations both in West Belfast and the walled city center of Derry delivers a breath taking impression on bypassers. Everyday life in the presence of cameras, paint-bombed and caged police stations certainly may not shock local residents as much as an occasional or regular visitor to mentioned places, but it certainly leaves a lasting impact on the affected residents. Northern Ireland’s urban areas, as well as some rural parts of the province, are full with remaining bits and pieces of the past, which give testimony of physical and well as psychological violence. Is there healing, where windows are still replaced with iron curtains, and yet uncounted security gates dividing neighbourhoods tear apart the otherwise peaceful appearance of a road? The continued presence of armoured police vehicles, at which opened rear doors heavily geared police officers still exercise their duty in the most menacing fashion, of Saracens, and barbed


Pl. 15: Falls Road, West Belfast 2005. An anti-criminalisation leaflet.

Pl. 16: Ardoyne, North Belfast 2003. Iron Curtains, which served as a security measure against bullets.


Pl. 17: Derry 2003. A Helicopter taking off from a British army base.

Pl. 18: Ormeau Road, South Belfast 2005. A Nationalist mural opposing Protestant/Unionist marches in the area.


wired walls and fences, still brands and stigmatises residents in their everyday life in Northern Ireland, and thus extends the shadow of pain, suffering and trauma far into a period of time that is supposed to provide widespread healing and reconciliation. The issue of seemingly dividing walls and fences, so called “Peace Lines”, and the interface areas, in which they are located, will be the focus of healing processes in Northern Ireland in the next chapter.

3.2.4. Protestant mural: From the 1980s to the present
The tradition of the newer wave of Protestant/Unionist mural painting since the early 1980s has a different face than the Republican mural tradition. As mentioned earlier, the production of Protestant murals experienced a significant decline during the 1970s. Such efforts only resurfaced during the Hunger Strike 1981, when Protestants responded to the campaign by reactionary antiHunger Strike and H-Block graffiti. These graffiti presented slogans like “Let Bobby Sands Die”, “Let Bobby Sands Rot In Hell” or “Don’t Be Vague, Starve A Taig”, and appeared in Protestant districts (Sluka 1992:209/210). As Sluka explains “Taig is derogative term for Catholics and Rolston (1987:27) notes that this is a takeoff on a whiskey advertisement – “Don’t Be Vague, Ask For Haig” (Sluka 1992:210). “Taig” is used in numerous anti-Catholic graffiti up to present times as pictured in plate 21. Apart from the painting of a few commemoration murals that referred to the Battle of the Boyne and broader themes such as Ulster/Unionism, Protestant mural painting jumped straight to what Sluka calls the “party-political phase” with the production of murals by Loyalist paramilitaries such as the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) (Sluka 1992:210). From there onwards the stark depiction of Loyalist paramilitaries dominated the face of the Protestant mural tradition. These images persist up to recent times and dominate good parts of Protestant neighbourhoods and districts in urban and rural Northern Ireland. Such images can be regarded as a metanarrative within a wider context of political developments in Northern Ireland from the middle of the 1980s onwards. This process manifested itself mainly with in one particular political event, namely the signing of the Anglo Irish Agreement (AAA) in 1985. Explained briefly, what the AAA did was establish communication channels between the British government in London and its Irish counterpart in Dublin. This meant a de facto inclusion of an “Irish” advice in the handling of affairs in the North by representatives of the Republic in the South. The great majority of Protestants in the North viewed this as a sell-out of their ideas and 84

their Ulster Unionist identity, as they feared the establishment of communication channels with the South were a sell-out of Ulster and one concession too many made to both the IRA and the Nationalist community. Thus with the signing of the AAA began an overall frustrating process for the Protestant community, since it felt that the British government did not grant it exclusive rights and protection anymore in Northern Ireland, but rather sought to promote a political agenda towards peace and the slow inclusion of (and thus sell-out to) the Catholic/Nationalist community in the province. In the long run Ulster Unionists feared the AAA was the beginning of the reunification of Ireland. In short, for Protestants the agreement meant a crude undermining of their loyalty to England. As Rolston remarks “old Unionist certainties were under siege” (Rolston 1998:i) and Tonge further explains that for Loyalists “the duty to obey the state was important, provided that the state maintained its obligations to the citizenry. According to Loyalists, the state had abandoned this covenant by enforcing the Anglo-Irish agreement” (Tonge 2005:28). The frustration that arose out of this situation manifested itself in the significantly increased painting of Loyalist paramilitary murals throughout Northern Ireland. These paintings can be considered an act of resistance that was, and still is, answered through the threat of the maintained use of arms for the protection of Protestants from the Irish Republican movement. Lastly it is hard to pin down the Loyalist resistance in Northern Ireland to a coherent position. Loyalists argue against the British government, but still show loyalty to the English crown, and the Royal family in particular. Loyalist paramilitaries are politically represented through a number of Northern Irish parties, such as the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), which has long term linkage to the UVF. Thus they are involved in a more or less democratic process. Other Unionist parties such as the Ulster Unionist party have links to the Orange Order, which though not a paramilitary organization can be considered a militant Protestant organization. As a whole it seems that Ulster Protestants have been looking for a distinct identity on their own without yet finding one. The disorientation in the Northern Irish Peace Process is clearly mirrored in Loyalist paramilitary murals. It is important to understand the Peace Process and the dynamics of advantages and disadvantages that arose from it for each side in a wider context. Much of the agenda of the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement was already proposed, but rejected, in the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, which equally sought an opening of communications between England and the Republic of Ireland in regard to affairs in the North. With the final fixation of some of the basic points of the Sunningdale Agreement in 1985, Northern Ireland launched into a very early stage of a peace process. Various talks through the rest of the 1980s followed, and in 1994 the IRA declared a ceasefire. A few weeks later Loyalist paramilitary organizations followed on that promise. The 85

Pl. 19: Shankill Road, West Belfast 2003: A UVF commemoration mural with a stark militaristic orientation.

Pl. 20: Shankill Terrace, West Belfast 2003. A UDA/UFF mural with the Union Jack painted on a transformer station.


Pl. 21: Shankill Road, West Belfast 2003. A UVF mural honouring 90 years of resistance against the Republican/Nationalist movement.

Pl. 22: Sandy Row area, South Belfast 2005. A Freshly installed UFF mural on a construction site.


following years up to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 were complicated. Talks were slow, concessions to the Republican movement were few and a challenge regarding its ideals. A long time it seemed that the talks were again a manifestation of the non-recognition of Catholic/Nationalist needs and demands for the reaching of an agreement. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 finally took up many of the ideas of the Sunningdale Agreement. In 1998 though not only an accord on communications between various participants in the Peace Process were fostered, but also comprehensive reforms of Northern Irish institutions that sought for an overall inclusion of the Catholic/Nationalist community. A large part of the Unionist community was further alienated by these steps taken by the British government and felt that a tighter inclusion of a “Southern” opinion in Northern affairs further promoted a reunification process with the Republic. As we can see, the time from the middle of the 1980s up to the present meant a huge challenge for the Protestant/Unionist community in Northern Ireland. What developed in this period can be seen as a considerable collective trauma through a sense of loss of identity that so long meant a steady anchor for Protestants and thus a right to the domination over Catholics In their view, the Protestant community were not the ones “profiting” from the various decisions and agreements made in the preceding decades. In the bigger picture they were being treated as equal to Catholics in their rights and demands. In addition it can be stated that recent figures regarding the census for Northern Ireland suggest a dramatic change in demographics for the province. After centuries of a Protestant domination in the region, the Catholic/Nationalist population has significantly increased over the last decades (Coulter 1999:12-14) and may equal or even outnumber Protestants within the coming years. In this regard Coulter observes:
“It is difficult to predict the precise impact the increasingly precarious balance of the ethnoreligious forces within the six counties will have upon communal relations of the province. Of crucial importance of course will be the manner in which Unionists respond to the gradual erosion of their status as a majority. The seemingly inexorable expansion of the Nationalist population may nurture within the Unionist community that sullen intransigence that has frustrated the cause of political progress at every turn in the past” (Coulter 1999:13).

May the spirit of optimism among Catholics be called “inexorable”, it does not alter the fact that where Protestants felt a loss and betrayal due to a stark inability of political and ideal reinvention, the Catholic/Nationalist community thrived and blossomed after years on the political and social margins of the Northern Irish province. In the face of these developments, the surrender to paramilitary themes in a broad majority of Protestant murals can be seen either as an expression 88

of disorientation, or of helplessness. The lack of trust in the state among Protestants is mirrored in the repugnant depiction of staunch paramilitarism and the presentation of pithy slogans (plate 21). To Loyalists the state as a guarantor of their safety and their interests is long lost. Apart from a number of murals that refer to the Royal family or other typical Unionist content, Protestant murals with their militaristic images seem to be stuck in their dark prospect for the present or the political future of Northern Ireland. Rolston explains this as follows:
“The lack of development in Loyalist murals is disappointing. But the rather obvious point must be stressed that murals do not exist in isolation from the culture and politics of the society, which spawns them. Given that, the difficulties faced by Loyalist muralists are a specific variant of those faced by the wider Loyalist and Unionist community in a period of political transformation. Loyalism, with its central claim to maintain the past, does not switch easily to articulating the future; nor do its muralists easily find the themes and images of a future vision in the absence of that articulation” (Rolston 1998:viii).

As major part of Loyalist murals can be characterized by a consistence in symbology and the use of mottos and slogans such as “Simply the Best” (plate 20). Many murals follow a heraldic outlet that may consist of the “Red Hand of Ulster”, a common UFF symbol as Rolston remarks (Rolston 1998:ii) and/or the British Union Jack (plates 19, 20, 22). Flags and banners are also common features. Most important though, as mentioned, Loyalist murals are extremely militaristic in appearance and follow the task to both intimidate “the enemy” and convey a notion of paramilitary power, and thus safety, to the neighbourhood. As such they communicate strength and domination. As Rolston remarks most murals are painted either by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) or the Red Hand Commandos (RHC) (Rolston 1998:ii), but a considerable amount of UDA murals can be found. In some cases, though rather rare, murals are shared between different paramilitaries (plate 20). All of these murals have a very sinister and threatening character. Paramilitaries themselves are painted mostly posing with their weapons; sometimes it is only the weapons alone that are depicted, standing “as a mute testimony to loyalist military action” (Rolston 1998:iii). Plate 22 shows a UVF mural that sidesteps the stereotypes of Loyalist imaging. The mural picks up on the UVF’s ninety years of resistance against Republican paramilitaries, and shows four different phases of the UVF’s armed campaigning. Phase one starts in 1912 with the training of the first volunteers. Phase two commemorates UVF battalions in the Battle of the Somme during World War I. The third part of the mural refers to the beginning military campaign during the modern Troubles in 1969, when the UVF acted as protection force for Shankill residents. Phase four is emblematic for the disorientation of Ulster Protestants. A road-sign shows two different 89

directions, or rather options for the UVF in the early 21st century. One side of the sign points towards “Ireland” and “War”, the other towards “United Kingdom” and “Peace”; next to the first sign stands a UVF volunteer, next to the other supposedly a politician. The lack of options this mural suggests is symptomatic for the disorientation of Ulster Protestants. It expresses both the fear of a reunification with the South and the staunch commitment to the maintenance of an armed struggle that the UVF, and with it numerous other Loyalist paramilitaries are not willing to end under the current circumstances. The notion of a lack of trust in the state and the overall Peace Process among Protestants becomes also painfully obvious in the fact that the Irish Republican movement until the time of writing has not only agreed to decommission its weapons but has also effectively announced the end of its campaign of armed struggle. In their declaration they argued that to achieve their goals an armed struggle was not anymore required (IRA Statement 2005/1). Loyalists so far not only refrained from decommissioning or from the final cessation of their armed struggle, they also do not consider any political effort towards peace in Northern Ireland as valid and relevant to their position towards either the state or the Republican movement. Thus, the Loyalist muralists are stuck in the ongoing stigmatisation of the Republican movement, as the preventers of a peace Loyalists do not seem to want themselves. The Protestant community in Northern Ireland is now facing challenges that it never had to face in its history. Not only are demographics changing quickly and most likely on a lasting basis. Also the labour market situation, and thus the problematic of unemployment for Protestants, is becoming more and more depressing, whereas Catholics for the first time are able to participate in the labour market with steadily lessening discrimination. Many Protestants feel like the losers in the ongoing Peace Process. Ulster Unionism will have to reinvent itself in the light of the beginning 21st century, and move away from the old “imagined community” (Anderson 1983) as an ethnic or cultural entity under the auspices of the British empire. A new self-definition under altered circumstances will be crucial for the Protestant community in Northern Ireland in order to be able to make a lasting change for the overcoming a collective trauma that is not even yet clearly defined and registered within the Northern Irish society, where Catholic/Nationalist demands of reconciliation are still dominant, and pressing. Thus, a most steady Peace Process can only be achieved when both communities’ traumata will equally get recognized, discussed, and finally reconciled.


Pl. 23: Shankill Road, West Belfast 2003. A Commemoration mural for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother.


Pl. 24: Shankill Road, West Belfast 2003. “Kill All Taigs”. Taigs is a derogative Loyalist term used for Catholics.



After times of trauma and prolonged suffering comes healing and the remaking of an everyday life. In the face of violent conflict, such as was the case in Northern Ireland, this concerns not only individuals with their experience of violence, but also communities, and in the case of the Northern Irish conflict a whole society. One of the most significant parameters in a healing process is the re-establishment of basic trust. This is true for both individuals, and the relationships they re-form, and the regaining of the public’s confidence and trust in federal institutions that severely influence life on an everyday collective level. How such processes of healing manifest themeselves will be the focus this chapter. It will consist of three parts. A first part will provide a short overview of healing as viewed within the anthropology of violence and conflict. Here I focus on short outlines on ghost stories in violent conflict as presented by Perera and Feldman. Furthermore I give a brief overview of Taussig’s concept of healing. I will then put the focus on a more psychological point of view, an approach I have already chosen in the second chapter of this work. Here again Judith Lewis Herman’s outlines on the topic will feature prominently. After a brief look at the most basic phenomena regarding healing within a psychological approach, I will shift my observations to the concept of basic trust and outline it in conjunction with disappearances in Argentina. A second part will switch to the more practical side of things and shed light on the healing process in everyday Northern Ireland. Here I will focus on the work of local NGO’s in particular urban areas of Belfast that provide counselling and forums of communication for those who suffered from prolonged violence during the conflict. The geographical areas I will refer to are so called “interfaces” or “interface areas” that have been most notorious for violent outbreaks throughout the conflict. Interfaces constituted a spacial category that encapsulated certain dynamics for the manifestation of everyday violence. Allen Feldman outlines this in his work “Formations of Violence” (Feldman 1991), upon which I will base my outlines. Looking at Interfaces from Michael Taussig’s work, one could very well describe these as “spaces of death”. As much though as they were violence-ridden areas, such Interfaces bore the potential of communication, and thus healing. A vast number of local organizations have been working on these frontlines of the conflict for many decades. Because of this work many of these “spaces of 93

death” were transformed into “spaces of healing” that particularly in the aftermath of the conflict provide room for the rebuilding of trust and a rapproachment between the communities. As such I will focus on the work of Cornerstone, a local Christian-orientated NGO, which is providing work in the Interface area along Springfield Road in West Belfast. The Springfield Interface can be considered one of the most conflict-ridden frontlines during the conflict. As such its importance as a “meeting point” of communities will be considered in the frame of the analysis of Cornerstone’s work. The third part of the chapter will consist of my photographic work I have been gathering throughout my fieldwork trips to Northern Ireland. This latter component will illustrate visual markers for healing, especially in urban areas like Belfast and Derry. For a more fluid progression of the following chapter, this material will be interwoven with the outlines, as I have already done in the preceding chapters.

4.1.1. Anthropological outlooks on Healing
As opposed to terror and suffering, the thematic of healing and healing processes is a rather marginalized topic in the field of the anthropology of violence and conflict. Healing processes are all too often equated with peace processes, a fact which of course in itself is not incorrect, but on the other hand does not fully acknowledge the complicated processes involved, both on individual and collective levels. Healing is closely interlinked with coping and remembering. One phenomenon very common in anthropology that constitutes such processes is the telling of ghost stories. Such stories are known from many places in which death and loss rule people’s everyday life. Perera has provided an account of experiences with ghost-like appearances for the case of Sri Lanka (Perera 2001:157200). Such stories are also accurate in the context of Northern Ireland. There, Feldman (1991) describes these stories as oral history around the spaces of death that are created by political violence. What is produced is a “cartography of death events”. The dead become an intrinsic part of these places and re-enter the world of the living through different forms of appearance. Feldman gives account of various such stories, where ghosts or banshees reappear in places where they had been killed. Such appearances manifest themselves either in a physical form, or as some sort of natural phenomenon, such as mist rising from a 94

certain spot on which somebody had been killed. Ghosts signify the inversion of the living, and as Feldman remarks the dead, and “the genealogy of the dead” are a “direct inversion of the positivities of kinship and residence”, two components which he sees as the former “central units of the moral order” in inner city neighbourhoods, such as in West Belfast. One such allegory is the Crying Stairs of Divis Flats, where the ghosts of a unit of British soldiers killed by the IRA reappear. Stories of death become intrinsic. “The space of death” as Feldman outlines ”forms a permanent cartography for the local community. Ghost tales also map the history of death in local space” (Feldman 1991: 65-68). Michael Taussig’s monumental description of terror and healing in the Colombian Amazon region of Putumayo (Taussig 1987) gives account of intrinsic manifestations of violence, of spaces and places drowned in violence and death. The healing of the holocaust-like spaces of death and terror that Taussig describes takes place in shamanistic rituals, which, incorporating various bodily and mental states, manifest the process of an absorption of experienced violence. For Taussig healing happens in a magical realism that is both imagined and very real at the same time. The shamanistic rituals which constitute this magical realism provide states of dreaming, which are supposed to invert the doctrines, and the terror that state institutions have imposed on people, either colonizers or other repressive institutions such as the Church. Thus the rituals described in Taussig’s work have the ultimate goal to overcome and destroy the traumatic past (Taussig 1987:165), a goal, which every healing process tries to reach. They appropriate the incorporation of a huge trauma into the daily reality of people. This is true for both individual and collective memories. Healing overcomes marginality and seclusion. The overcoming of marginality is also a thematic in the term “limpieza”, which Taussig uses as major concept for his diary “Law in a Lawless Land” (Taussig 2003). “Limpieza” signifies a process of cleansing. In Colombia the term was attributed to the terror spread by various paramilitary organizations, but as Taussig points out, such cleansing can also mean the cleaning of a physical or mental space, the “healing (of) a person or a home from marginality due to spirit attack or sorcery”. “Such healing” Taussig continues “not only neutralizes deadly force, but enhances a sense of self in place and time” (Taussig 2003:xiii). Thus “limpieza” also signifies a reconnection with an everyday.


4.1.2. A psychological approach to Healing
Judith Lewis Herman defines three stages in the healing from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Establishing safety is the central task of the first stage. A second stage is characterized by the ability to achieve a state of remembrance and mourning, a sense of acknowledging the pain and suffering oneself as a victim was affected by. The third stage has at its central task the reconnection with ordinary everyday life (Herman 2001:155). A basic characteristic in these stages of recovery is the by and by fading away of PTSD symptoms, thus as Herman outlines “it should be possible to recognize a gradual shift from unpredictable danger to reliable safety. From dissociated trauma to acknowledged memory, and from stigmatized isolation to restored social connection” (Herman 2001:155). A central characteristic in the first stage of recovery, namely establishing safety, is the victim’s restoration of control over her needs, regaining control over her own body and her ability to engage in a system of self-care that allows help, therapy, and thus the evolvement into the second and third stage of recovery. As Herman outlines the focus of the re-establishment of bodily control progresses in the course of regaining of control over one’s environment. Such an environment should be safe in the best case (Herman 2001:162). As we have seen in the preceding chapters, seclusion may be one way chosen by the victim to establish such a space of safety that is bereft of the terror of the outside world. From this point the person affected by trauma can “gradually progress toward a widening sphere of engagement in the world” (Herman 2001:162). For the relatives of a victim the task of providing help might be very hard to live up to, thus a coordinated way of communication in the possible form of therapy might help both the trauma-affected person and his/her relatives. The effect of such a widening engagement is a first stage of re-establishing basic trust in one’s immediate social environment (Herman 2001:163 ff.). The ability to remember and mourn defines the central task of the second stage of recovery. In this stage as Herman outlines the affected person tells the story of her trauma in depth and full detail. Herman explains, “this work of reconstruction actually transforms the traumatic memory, so that it can be integrated into the survivor’s life story” (Herman 2001:175). As indicated above the successful establishment of this stage has a lot to do with the victim’s self- acknowledgment of her past and the intertwined problematic. A trauma victim must be self-conscious about her (or his) state in order to be able to fight the problem. The illness as Herman cites Siegmund Freud “must no longer seem to him contemptible, but must become an enemy worthy of his


(her) mettle, a piece of his (her) personality, which has solid ground for its existence, and out of which things of value for his (her) future life have to be derived” (Freud in Herman 2001:175). During this stage the victim might be confronted with outbreaks of rage and revenge that have to be controlled and brought to a sensible level. As rage is vented in a safe environment, the victim’s “helpless fury gradually changes into a more powerful and satisfying form of anger: righteous indignation” (Herman 2001:189). As Herman further outlines, this transformation allows the affected person to free herself from extreme feelings of rage and revenge. In many cases this transformation leads to a “quest of justice”, what begins is “the process of joining with others to hold the perpetrator accountable for his (her) crimes” (Herman 2001:189). The third stage in the process of recovery is the reconnection with an everyday life, a daily routine, in which the trauma affected person “faces the task of creating a future” (Herman 2001:196). After the traumatized person is aware of her suffering and learned to recognize that “her (his) relationships have been tested and forever changed by the trauma”, she “now must develop new relationships” and re-engage in a broader social frame. Herman further explains, “the old beliefs that gave meaning to her life have been challenged; now she must find anew sustaining faith. These are the tasks of the third stage of recovery. In accomplishing this work, the survivor reclaims the world” (Herman 2001:196). As Herman further emphasizes, helplessness and isolation are the core experiences of psychological trauma, empowerment and reconnection on the other hand are the core experiences of healing. In this stage the victim becomes aware of her status as such and comes to “understand the effects of her victimization” and is thus able to “incorporate the lessons of her traumatic experience into her life” (Herman 2001:197). An important factor at this stage of recovery is the victim’s reconciliation with herself. She is aware of her abilities, and of the fact that she can contribute something to her social surroundings. There is a clear knowledge of oneself and the damage that the traumatic experience has done. Control is re-established, the person is in possession of herself (Herman 2001:202). Moreover the person is aware that the damage done must not be permanent, but can be overcome. At this stage trauma victims are able to “let go”, and become forgiving towards themselves. The more a person engages in rebuilding her life, the more she is able to come to terms with her traumatic past (Herman 2001:203). In the course of reconnecting with others, trauma victims may choose to engage with other people that have experienced similar pain and suffering that emanated from a similar source. 97

They engage in what Herman calls “commonality” (Herman 2001:214). Engaging with a community of like-minded survivors is important, because it is a way of overcoming the broken bonds between individual and community, and as Herman further emphasizes “the solidarity of a group provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest antidote to traumatic experience. Trauma isolates; the group re-creates a sense of belonging. Trauma shames and stigmatizes; the group bears witness and affirms. Trauma degrades the victim; the group exalts her. Trauma dehumanizes the victim; the group restores her humanity” (Herman 2001:214). In addition to that she remarks that a group offers for the victim always a great capacity of listening and caring, it is able to “bear and integrate traumatic experience that is greater than that of any individual member” (Herman 2001:216). Herman identifies three different types of trauma-help groups; safety groups, groups for remembrance and mourning, and reconnection groups. The three types serve the victim’s needs in various ways demands and may be consulted at different stages of recovery. Groups of safety constitute the earliest stage of groups that serve the needs that may be considered most immediate to the aftermath of the traumatic experience. The main aim of such groups is to provide safety from over flooding experiences, bringing strategies of self caring to the victims, and fostering each member’s strengths and coping abilities. Such a work as Herman emphasizes becomes more productive in remembrance and mourning groups, which consist of members that have overcome the most immediate and basic stages of recovery. Such groups are characterized by a bigger and stricter organized structure, which allows only a limited number of participants to guarantee continuous undisturbed working and prolonged help and feedback. Whereas safety groups are usually limited to a certain time span, remembrance and mourning groups work within a much looser time frame. Groups for reconnection constitute the third type. Herman defines this type as „interpersonal“ groups that again work in a more time limited setting. Here the main focus lies in the interaction of the participants, and the concentration on the here and now, the present. Within such a setting both the supportive and critical feedback which participants receive Herman argues, is “a powerful therapeutic agent” (Herman 2001: 218-235). The exchange with other participants brings the trauma victim back into a wider social reality and into a “commonality”. This commonality Herman outlines, “carries with it all the meanings of the word common. It means belonging to a society, having a public role, being part of that which is universal. It means having a feeling of familiarity, of being known, of communion. It means taking part in the customary, the commonplace, the ordinary, and the everyday...(…). The survivor who has achieved 98

commonality with others can rest from her labours. Her recovery is accomplished; all that remains before her is her life” (Herman 2001:235/236). Although Herman emphasizes a positive outcome and an escape from the syndromes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she also makes clear that the victim of trauma will never completely forget her experience. “The resolution of trauma” she outlines “is never final; recovery is never complete. The impact of a traumatic event continues to reverberate throughout the survivor’s lifecycle” (Herman 2001:211). This means that issues that seemed sufficiently resolved at a certain point of recovery may be re-awoken at other crucial points in life, such as “marriage or divorce, a birth or death in the family, illness or retirement” (Herman 2001:211).

4.1.3 Basic Trust
The betrayal of the basic trust that a human being puts into the social and political world around him is considered the most central issue within traumatic experience. When a certain social order, societal certainties are overthrown, the victims of this process are pushed into an uncanny space of being. When state institutions betray the basic trust that people have put into them, when these institutions turn against the people, whom they were elected to protect, then spaces of terror and death (Taussig 1987) are created. People are ripped of every possible sense of certainty about their being or the being of close relatives. When the ability to mourn is denied by the state, people are slowly but thoroughly shattered by the inability to recover from a traumatic loss. Such dynamics have been prominently touched upon in anthropological writing. Robben (1995, 2000, 2005) has provided extensive insight into the struggle of Argentineans mourning their disappeared children and their demand for the knowledge and certainty about their remains. Basic trust is the most fragile of all components within social experience, and thus it is the first thing to be shattered when something turns against it, such as traumatic experience of violence and loss. The loss of a close relative due to the person’s abduction or disappearance by state forces constitutes such a case. Between 1976 and 1982 the military junta regime in Argentina has abducted and disappeared between 10.000 and 30.000 people (Robben 2000:93), either from streets or directly from homes before the eyes of their relatives. Most of them were killed, many cremated, others thrown into mass graves. Some were abandoned at roadsides, dumped in rivers, 99

and yet others were thrown off planes at high sea under sedation (Robben 2000:95). Only a few have survived and were forced into exile.

Pl. 25: Falls Road, West Belfast. Cherish the Children. A mural acknowledging the Teens for Justice Summer School from 2004.

The disappearance of the bodies followed a number of purposes. In that the military disappeared the bodies, there was no “corpus delicti” for which they could have been held responsible. Further these disappearances targeted the core of the Argentinean society (Robben 2000:95). Those left behind were doomed to suffer. For the longest time the Argentinean state has denied relatives the certainty about their relatives, and thus denied them the burial and coming to terms with their own traumatic past. The state has shattered the basic trust people had in its institutions, and it has exercised the power of control over the relatives’ mental and physical states. This acts has brought mothers of such disappeared persons to form a powerful organization of women that became famous under the name of the “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” (Robben 2000:104). By 1982 exhumations of mass graves and other graves on communal cemeteries had been undertaken. As Robben remarks, right after the end of the junta regime towards the end of 1982, 100

the madres believed that “the exhumations would give the disappeared a name and an identity” and could be given a proper burial (Robben 2000:104). For many of these relatives in favour of the exhumations a time of mourning was after all possible. Through the certainty of the death of their relatives and through the possibility to say goodbye to them, they were finally able to reconnect and overcome, but not forget, the death of their children. For others such as a group of mothers around Hebe de Bonafini that broke away from the main organization, because they were strongly opposed to any kind of exhumations, the fight against forgetting still goes on. Their believe that the exhumations and reburial of the disappeared corpses would rehabilitate the actions of the Argentinean state and would promote a forgetting of the past, led them as Robben further remarks to the condemnation of “the very exhumations that could give them answer to their original plea about the whereabouts of the disappeared” (Robben 2000:107).

4.2.1 An Overview
The second part of my outlines within this chapter will now focus on the work of local organizations providing help for traumatized people working in the important sector of community relations. As we have seen in the outlines on recovery above, such a transformation of grief and trauma may lead to the trauma victim’s engagement on a broader societal level, and bring his/her concerns in the context of a political struggle for justice and recognition. The Madres de Plaza de Mayo in both their forms serve a good example for such action. But also the Northern Irish setting provides good examples of political work. For many years a vast range of organizations has been working towards the healing of wounds inflicted by the conflict upon people. Two of such have already been briefly mentioned within this thesis; Silent Too Long and Relatives For Justice (both located in Belfast) are both relative-orientated groups, which try to enforce the cover up of state directed and sponsored killings. Other groups such as the Conflict and Trauma Resource Center (Belfast) are providing work to assemble the wide spread range of traumatization issues. They work with civilians harmed by violence as well as former paramilitaries suffering from their engagement in an armed struggle or ex-prisoners. The search for truth and justice and subsequent reconciliation in and after the conflict in Northern Ireland is essential for a vast majority of those affected by traumatization emanating from experienced 101

violence. Maybe the best known among these organizations are the Peace People. The Peace People came to international fame in the late 1970s through the tireless efforts of Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Betty Williams, who travelled the world to plea for a just and peaceful Northern Ireland. In 1976 Corrigan-Maguire and Williams were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pl. 26: Lisburn Road, South Belfast. Plate before the Peace People office.

Relatives For Justice have been administering a project called “Eolas”, which is Irish for “information” that sought to come up with a principal evaluation of the work of a number of organizations. The report focused on organizations that have been working with trauma-affected people, and furthermore tried to outline the basic aims and goals of grass roots and general NGO work in Northern Ireland. Eolas defines itself as “working in the present through seeking to come to terms with the past” (Eolas 2003:2). Here the main aim of the organization is to carve out perspectives for communication between communities in Northern Ireland. Eolas tries to promote a scheme that is inclusive of all sides, Catholics and Protestants, and both victims and perpetrators (Eolas 2003:20). A statement for the final report of the project remarks the following:
“One of the biggest challenges facing us as a society is dealing with the legacy of a prolonged conflict in which over three thousand people died and human rights abuses were systematically perpetrated. Since the start of the Peace Process there has been an ongoing debate on how to deal with this legacy. The past cannot be undone but it is our belief that it can be dealt with in a way that acknowledges the loss, the harm and the abuse inflicted. We further believe that truth and justice processes can help to redress the wrongs of the past and support the transition to a just society in the future” (Eolas 2003:2).


Eolas further identifies an array of approaches, which may promote the achievement of truth, reconciliation and justice. Among these are the collection of life-stories and oral history; not only is an assessment of experiences possible, but also potential psychological support for the person telling the story (Eolas 2003:4). An example for such a collection of life-stories is the yet unpublished “Duchas” archive initiated by the Falls Community Center in Belfast. Within this project local Falls residents, both Catholic and Protestant, had been interviewed about their life experiences during the Troubles. The results were thoughtful, gripping testimonies of loss, suffering, pain and mourning. Other approaches aim to promote the recognition of injustice and the remembrance of the struggles people were engaged in. Such would be memorials, peace parks, museums, public and collective commemorations, and a center for remembrance (Eolas 2003:4). Further measures mainly focus on processes promoting the recovery of truth and the active work between communities, so called “Community Relations Schemes”.

4.2.2. Truth and Reconciliation
As in numerous other countries, too, which have been affected by prolonged outbreaks of violence and conflict the discussion for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Northern Ireland has been vital for many years. Countries like South Africa, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Guatemala and Argentina have installed some form of truth or justice commission, and naturally there are many pros and cons whether such a commission could bring fruitful results in Northern Ireland. The authors of the Eolas report state one major argument against such a commission, and that in their view is the outcome of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, which in their view has traded amnesty for truth, and represents for such a fact a unique case of a likely commission (Eolas 2003:6). But of course the arguments speaking for the establishment of such an institution for Northern Ireland outweigh the cons. First and foremost as the authors argue such a commission would bring the “promise of the truth about past abuses” (Eolas 2003:6). It would uncover the role of the state throughout the conflict and bring to the fore an array of issues that have been swept aside by state institutions for many decades. Most of all a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would bring certainty about facts, rumours and names that have been circulating within human rights organizations in Northern Ireland for a very long time. It could, as the authors further suggest, “offer some explanations of why the abuses occurred when they did” and explain what “the political logic behind the abuses of the time” was. There maybe would be an acknowledgement of the suffering and pain inflicted upon victims of state 103

terror. The authors even voice the hope for a chance of an apology in such a setting (Eolas 2003:6).

Pl. 27 & 28: Botanic Gardens, South Belfast. “Sorry” graffiti written in the three colours of the British and Irish flags.

Eolas have also worked out models for a possible reconciliation process. As a vision the authors see:
“A society that acknowledges the hurts and losses of all, and promotes understanding; where a full and true account of the conflict is exposed, including the policies that initiated and perpetuated the conflict, its causes and consequences. Resulting in a future new society, which is based upon equality, human rights, justice and dignity, with a population that has an informed opinion of the events of the last 30 years; who have a true sense of understanding and have learned lessons of history, allowing us to move forward individually and collectively” (Eolas 2006:15).

That vision is paired with the mission to facilitate the transition process from the times of conflict to a new future for Northern Ireland. Such a future should also ensure an expression and validation of experiences, build a sense of empowerment, confidence, trust and safety, and thus further lead to individual and collective healing. Another important point the authors see as a 104

vision is to “ensure responsibility and accountability from those responsible for past injustice” (Eolas 2003:15). One of the Eolas models for reconciliation pursues the establishment of a commission, which would hold hearings with representatives of 11 groups that have been closely interlinked with the conflict. Such groups would include Republican paramilitaries (IRA, INLA, CIRA, RIRA), Loyalist paramilitaries (UDA/UFF, UVF/Red Hand Commandos and others), and state forces such as the RUC, the British Army, and British Intelligence, and a 26-County (all Ireland) government (Eolas 2003:26). A commission would ensure something that so many other truth commissions have failed to achieve, namely that the perpetrators of violence and terror had to publicly speak about their actions. The commission would not pursue any legal consequences; these would have to be discussed outside the commission in court cases not linked to its efforts. Such a procedure ensures that amnesty is not traded for truth. A likely commission would follow an inclusive approach that would hear both victims and perpetrators, emphasize the responsibility of all sides in the conflict, and guarantee the investigation into thousands of uncharged incidents that can be linked to state-terror activities (Eolas 2003:26). The process implied could thus potentially bring a recognition and acknowledgment of human pain and suffering in and after the conflict, promote truth and justice, and as such would have an enormous healing effect on wide parts of Northern Ireland’s society.

4.2.3. Community Relations Work in urban Northern Ireland
Eolas emphasize a bottom-up approach, which puts its focus on community-orientated and victim-centered work (Eolas 2006:20). Such work is carried out on a grassroots-level, and can be identified as community-relations work, mostly happening on local micro-levels. For several decades Community Relations initiatives have been the backbone for peace-building in local communities as well and trans-communal communication and the establishment of good relations between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Where politicians seemed trapped in the everyday political quarrel, such locally based initiatives have throughout the conflict, and after, shown a great deal of empathy and intuition for the problems of communities.


In the following pages I want to focus on one such an initiative called Cornerstone. Cornerstone has been counselling in the Interface area along Springfield Road in West Belfast. For this I want to deliver a short overview regarding the significance of Interface areas in Belfast in the context of violence and healing, and then focus on the work of Cornerstone by presenting a conversation I had with the former director of the initiative, Tom Hannon, in which questions like healing and forgiveness turned out to be a dominating concern.

4.2.4. Interface Areas in Belfast
Allen Feldman (1991:28) cites Boal and Murray in explaining the term Interface as “the topographic ideological boundary sector that physically and symbolically demarcates ethnic communities in Belfast from each other. The “interface” is a spacial construct pre-eminently linked to the performance of violence”. Many areas around Belfast that came to be Interfaces originally where mixed areas. Through the prolonged dislodging of residents at the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s these areas became frontlines of the conflict, crossing points of violent outbreaks and clashes. Thus, as Feldman remarks, these areas experienced a “recodification of mixed areas into confrontational zones” (Feldman 1991:28). Interfaces as such have been used (or abused) for various acts linked to the conflict. They have been popular marching areas within the Protestant marching tradition. They have endured prolonged outbreaks of violence, and the building of barricades, which later were turned into playgrounds by local children. They have also been the sites for the building of walls, the socalled Peace Line. Feldman further explains that “the proliferation of interfaces, the barricading, and the influx of refugee populations organized the ethnically homogenous areas into sanctuary spaces, or at least generated idealized sanctuary constructs that functioned as mental maps for local people”. Such “Sanctuaries” as Feldman further explains in the course of his outlines, were vital hiding places and safe ground for operating paramilitaries during the conflict. Paramilitaries would leave the Sanctuary of their own community, cross the Interface, and penetrate the Sanctuary of the targeted community (Feldman 1991:35). The Springfield Interface has been a prominent area for outbreaks of violence already since the early 1920s and again became notorious in 1969 (Boal and Murray in Feldman 1991:28). The Springfield road is at least one of 27 other Interface areas identified by the Belfast Interface Project (BIP) in the city (BIP 2004:4). The area can further be described as one of three Interface 106

types, namely as an area in which Catholics and Protestants are (to this day) evenly divided. Two other types identified by the BIP are so called “islands” of a community’s residents, or areas where a buffer zone of mixed areas separates bigger areas of homogenous residency form each other (BIP 2004:5). Interfaces themselves have various appearances. As the authors of the Belfast Interface Project report stress, Interfaces do not necessarily need to be solid brick walls or fences, but can also be a road, or an area that may “be unnoticeable to the outsider”, though local residents would exactly know where the Interface runs along (BIP 2004:4).

4.2.5. Reflections on Interface Work in West Belfast – The Work of the Cornerstone Community
As much as Interfaces in West Belfast have been ideotypes of “spaces of death” throughout the Northern Irish conflict, they have also been the site of community- and cross-community work for many years, and have thus been gradually been transformed into potential “spaces of healing”. In this context various organizations have been providing help for local residents and have sought communication with people on both sides of the divide. The last part of this chapter will be dedicated to the work of one such organization, the Cornerstone Community located in the Interface area along the Springfield Road in West Belfast. The Springfield Road covers one of the longest Interface areas in the city, stretching from the outskirts of West Belfast to the beginning of the Falls area near the city center, and turning into Grosvenor Road towards the center of Belfast. Cornerstone’s community house is located in an area between Springmartin and the Shankill on the Protestant/Unionist side and the Ballymurphy and Falls area on the Catholic/Nationalist side. What follows are excerpts from my interview with Tom Hannon, former director of the Cornerstone Community. The following passages thus shall be an anthropological lookout for healing after the Troubles, as well as a free floating quest for such mentioned spaces of healing that provide people with recognition and support in their daily struggle of coming to terms with their experiences. The excerpts will be an outline of Cornerstone’s work, and furthermore will present Tom Hannon’s outlook on healing in the Interface area of Springfield Road, and the change that Cornerstone has achieved there over the years.


Pl.29: Thanksgiving Square, Laganside area, Belfast. Female statue figure, which according to a plate near it, “represents various allegorical themes associated with hope and aspiration, peace and reconciliation and is derived from images from Classical and Celtic mythology”. The plate further explains: “Her position on the globe signifies a unified approach to life on this earth. It encompasses oneness, while celebrating the diversity of culture that exists in our global village. The aim of the sculpture is to bring people together and to change hearts and minds; to make bridges across the divides in our community. To work towards a peaceful, happy existence for everyone on this planet by respect for each other, their cultural heritages and all our aspirations. This symbol creates a tangible first statement of our long term objective in bringing people together to foster a happy and fulfilling life for all and a sense of gratefulness for all that life has given us”.

The Cornerstone Community is a group of Catholic and Protestant Christians that started its activities in 1982 evolving from a local prayer group, the Clonard Prayer Group. Cornerstone is a partner in the local Forth Spring Community Project that focuses its work on healing and reconciliation in the West Belfast areas of the Falls (Catholic/Nationalist residency) and the Shankill (Protestant/Unionist residency). Moreover the community is incorporated in a loose network with a number of other initiatives throughout the city of Belfast ( In the following passage Tom Hannon, director of Cornerstone from 1995 to 2001, remembers his feelings during the outbreak of the Troubles in the late 1960s and his beginnings in local


community work, and the difficulties of finding a way in bringing people together despite the odds of everyday life:
“I think I can quite remember my feeling, when the Troubles broke out, I can remember feeling quite ill, quite sick, and the reason was that all my life I had been a socialist and a trade unionist, and I was afraid that I was going to find myself in a situation where I was going to be standing behind a barricade, chucking stones at all the people, Protestant people, and betraying principles that I’ve lived with you know, and the whole thing was gonna be taken away from me. And I felt really sort of a terrible gut feeling of a dread, and I think when the British Army first moved in here in Northern Ireland, there was a general acceptance, the niceness with which people welcomed them. Because they felt they would stand between them and what they called the Loyalist mobs, and of course that euphoria didn’t last very long. You know there were times when I just felt powerless. And so I became involved in sort of … community…situations…and little… civic society…. that sort of thing, trying to bridge the gap, at Suffolk (street) where I lived, where I still live, there was an Interface, there’s now barricades and walls are built and all that around us, there’s a small Protestant enclave up there at Suffolk where I live, surrounded by Catholics. And in the early days of the Troubles we were trying to have some sort of rapport going on, we started a civic society, there’s so many things that happened, housing, people moving out, people moving in, the things to sort of seemed to be falling apart, it was very disheartening. And of course because you felt, you wanted trying to see both sides in a situation like that, somebody once said “When you are walking in the middle of the road you get knocked down with traffic coming both ways” They are going either way. That sort of thing is difficult, just to maintain that, cause you seem to be arguing against your own side all the time, trying to see the other point of you”.

Hannon’s involvement with Cornerstone began after a painful period of the loss of his eldest son due to leukaemia and the shooting of his daughter Mary by a Loyalist death squad. His daughter survived the attack, from then on being confined to a wheelchair. He states that especially these two very personal incidents fostered his and his wife’s opposition to any violence, and due promoted their involvement with a local community. Up to the age of 62, Hannon had worked in local industry. In 1995 he quit his job becoming director of the Cornerstone Community. Prior to 1995 Hannon had been involved with the Community in a more informal way. During one difficult period in regard to his family Cornerstone had offered him and his wife a room at the house in Springfield Road. Hannon and his wife accepted the offer, moving in. He recollects this period as such:
“We were here for I think some five weeks and over the Easter period, when everybody was away and we were sort of, we almost became caretakers of the place, and found ourselves welcoming guests, people who were coming through, you know that sort of thing, although we at that point weren’t members of the community, but then the Community asked us to join, so we did. And since then, my wife didn’t get


terribly involved, but I did, so that was at the end of the Eighties, so that’s how I came to be a member of Cornerstone”.

Since Cornerstone’s establishment around the Springfield Interface in the early 1980s the Community has been providing all sorts of informal work that was supposed to engage local residents in communal gatherings and other sorts of occasions that promoted communication between the Protestants and Catholics of the area. In conjunction to Cornerstone’s work, I also asked Tom Hannon how Conerstone’s efforts were greeted:
“I think it’s true to say that we for the most part, have been well received in the area. Obviously when we came in first, people wondered who we were. There’s all sorts of perceptions that we were a home for battered wives, or we were a home for alcoholics, you know that sort of thing. But then they got to know us the residents round about. This has always been, this part of the road has always been a mixed area, you know. And as you know, all behind us here is Protestant, and all in front of us is Catholic, so we’re here in the middle, and we have provided, I think, a space, and people have accepted us over the years, and indeed there been people, who have come in and out of the place, and visited us, come in for a cup of tea, and sometimes we’ve had meetings here of people who wouldn’t have met anywhere else, you know. I mean we have been burgled from time to time. I don’t think there was ever what could be described as a sectarian attack on us. You know, bit of vandalism, on one occasion somebody stole our oil tank, and eh, we had a car stolen out of a garage, but in terms of sectarian abuse, we never had that, never”.

He continues to talk about one exception during the middle of the 1990s, when local Nationalist residents paintbombed and sprayed a graffiti on the community house in protest over Cornerstone’s position in regard to a march of the Orange Order along the Springfield Road.
“The only time, the only time we got a bit of a you know, when we were castigated if you like, because of this march on the road here on this last Saturday in June, shortly after I came as director, we tried to get people to talk about this. We had the Orangemen in here, we had the residents in here, representatives, separately, and we put in a lot of talk, and one morning, in fact I think I can, just hold on I’ll show you a photograph so that you’ll know [he shows me a photograph with the paint-bombed Cornerstone sign outside of the community house]. Now that’s the one thing that happened that would have been about 96 I think, or 97, I’m not sure which, Bernhard, and eh, we were terribly annoyed about that you know, we were trying to, if you lik,e mediate between the two, somebody later told me that the reason it happened was because we didn’t oppose the march, you see? But my answer to that was “But we didn’t oppose a protest”. All we suggested was it should be peaceful! You see. As well as that I said, we’re presenting ourselves as honest brokers. We have an extra grind in all this, because of our involvement with Forth Spring and the youth work we’re doing. We were working all year with bringing these kids together, and you know that sort of thing, and on a Saturday afternoon in June the whole could be destroyed. So we had


Pl.30: The Big Fish, Lagan Lookout, Port of Belfast. Monument by John Kindness telling episodes from the history of Belfast, and another clear marker of healing between the communities.

Pl.31: „The Soldier“. Drawing by James Radcliffe on one tile of the Big Fish.


an extra grind, we had an influence to the thing. It just wasn’t a matter of our being away up here and preaching to people down there you know what I mean, we were involved”.

The following passage is to me a very moving account of the odds Cornerstone faced in the course of their work in the Springfield area. It was the answer to whether he thought that Cornerstone’s work moved people closer together, especially since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998:
“Well. Yes I think, I think we did. I mean some of the things we did over the years certainly brought people together. It was, it was in 1988; we had a procession on the road. And we started further down the road were there was a piece of, a vacant lot, and we gathered there on the Springfield Road, and we walked from there on to the Shankill Road. And that meant that we had to go through the wall, through the gate in the wall, and the gate in the wall had to be opened. And we walked upon to the Shankill Road, and when we got on top of Shankill Road we were met with a couple of eggs, somebody threw eggs at us. It wasn’t very serious. One young man ran and pulled all the banners away, we were falling across, it was Good Friday, it was a Good Friday, so then I think the agreement was made on Good Friday, now the agreement seems to be in tatters or whatever. But people came to join us. Despite the fact that we were opposed, not for everyone of the Shankill, but there was one lady there whose husband had just been shot. And I…I forgotten her name. But she was part of this little protest group. But her husband, who was a counsellor, Loyalist counsellor, had been shot by the IRA. But then when we walked up the Woodfield Park, it’s up here actually you probably know it, we had a prayer service there, and it was raining a little. But at the end of the prayer service there was a huge double-rainbow stretching all over Belfast. So, we took that as a sign. You know, obviously, you know I mean it was a sign that we could take, so we took it! And as well as that, we had other processions like that you know. There was a man shot down the road here, in Ballysaint Close. And we had, after it happened, we had his wife here, in fact the day that it happened it was a Wednesday, and on Wednesday we hold our meeting here, Wednesday’s our meeting day for the community, goes from about four o’clock until about seven you know. And two, three of us went down to the house, one Protestant, two Catholics; we went down to the house, to speak to, well, whoever was there. And after that we thought that we’d have a commemoration of John, and we thought we’d have a prayer service in the house and a month after he was killed, but, and we got his wife up here, his widow to talk about this you know. And when the meeting was going on she was sitting just where about where I am sitting, I was down here and we were talking about this and how we’d organize it and obviously it was a very emotional sort of a meeting, but there was a ring at the door, and I went out I went out to the door and there were two children standing in the door. And they said to me “Do you have a gold-fish-bowl” and I said, “No we don’t.” I said, “What do you want with a gold fish bowl?” And they said “For a goldfish!” You know, well, I mean the logic of that, we were at a funeral, but however, we didn’t have a goldfish bowl but we got them an old anneal casserole dish, and off they went. And I thought to myself what, what is the Lord saying here. At one side of the house we are discussing this commemoration for


this poor man who has been killed with his widow, and on the other side of the house we are giving these two kids a goldfish bowl, so that, even in the midst of mayhem and murder goldfish are important to some children, and we were really getting the two sides of the situation. Actually we did hold a prayer service for John, but we didn’t hold it in the house because so many people came to it. We had to hold it in the street, it was a mixed group of people, Catholics and Protestants, and it was held in the street so we did the same thing whenever Phelomena was killed and shot in the chemist shop, we had a little prayer service on the road, and a man said to me, David Kerr, the Reverend David Kerr, who was a couple of years ago the Methodist president in Ireland. He said: “You know Cornerstone has shown how to deal with this again. Cause people came along, and if you was that they wanted to associate themselves with this little prayer service saying that “I don’t accept this killing, this is not my community that is doing this, I don’t want to be associated with this, you know!” You give people an opportunity to join with other people, and make this sort of statement if you like. So that’s the sort of thing we did in bringing people together. Sometimes we look at these movements, sometimes as very, very slow, and sometimes people will think insignificant, it’s not gonna get into the media, the headlines or the papers, but it’s working”.

The questions of justice and forgiveness, the grievances of people on both sides of the divide, are phenomena that the Cornerstone people have been confronted with many times in the course of their work. Forgiveness of course is a fundamental part in Christian faith, which many community workers are strongly influenced by; it is the everyday drive to their work and the compassion they bring to trauma-affected people. In this sense it is transported and defined as a moral category. Psychology however treats the concept of forgiveness in a different way. There to forgive is not a moral imperative, not a necessity to promote a victim’s healing. Herman outlines the following:
“Folk wisdom recognizes that to forgive is divine. And even divine forgiveness, in most religious systems, is not unconditional. True forgiveness cannot be granted until the perpetrator has sought and earned it through confession, repentance, and restitution” (Herman 2001:190).

The following excerpt from my conversation with Tom Hannon touches exactly upon this discrepancy. For Hannon the necessity of justice, of bringing the perpetrators of violence to responsibility, is not a necessary act in order to reach a point where one forgives. For him, the healing lies in the very ability to forgive, whereas for the victims he is talking about, a certain forgiveness, and the possibility to mourn lies, similarly to the case of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, in the fact that the perpetrator has to be brought to justice. Only then can they mourn their relatives and comes to terms with their past.
“The other thing we did in Cornerstone, we tried to visit the homes where people were shot on both sides of the divide, we went to funerals, and we presented ourselves and told people who we were, you know, and we did that in a number of occasions. And we learned a lot you know. You touched the pain on the


other side of a community, you realize that the hurt was the same; the agony was the same on both sides. People lost their children, their husbands, their wives, and of course there’s a great legacy of bitterness. And of course our view is how do you find forgiveness? My own view is that forgiveness is a very personal thing. There is no point in preaching forgiveness to people who haven’t been hurt. You can get very soulful about forgiveness, if you have never had anything to forgive. You gotta be extremely careful I think, in our situation that the words you use and the expressions you use are not empty, that it has some meaning. But I’m convinced of the necessity to forgive. You see, you know if you are dying of hatred, and desire for revenge, it enters your very soul, and you’re damaged. I don’t want to say it’s easy to forgive, you know, it’s just that, I mean you are destroying yourself. I hear people reading in the papers about somebody who would say, until, you know this McCartney case, I’m sure you’re aware of that, I mean obviously these ladies are terribly devastated by the death of their brother, and understandably so. But I have heard people saying “we can’t grieve for our brother until we know who killed him, and whoever killed him is brought to justice”. I don’t understand that. I don’t see why someone has to be caught so you can grieve, I find that difficult, I think I would be grieving. You know people also, and utterly again a personal view, people also talk about justice. And I get the impression that they mean vengeance, you know, revenge. But then I suppose I haven’t been hurt as much as other people, I mean my daughter is still with me, she has a little girl, when I think of the families that have been devastated by the Troubles, three and four members of them been killed. It’s very difficult, very hard”.

I asked him whether he would describe forgiveness as a part of healing:
“Oh I think so. And you see that, the one thing is we not forgive you until you repent. For me I think that, it seems that you forgive someone, and perhaps they repent. And even if they don’t repent. “Should I forgive my brother seven times?” Peter said, and Jesus said “Seventy-seven times”. Whatever. It’s a word that trips off the tongue “forgiveness”, “justice”, God, it’s something you really have to work out ,Bernhard. You really have to work that out”.

I wondered whether he thinks that there is a peace process going on in the community, a question he answered positively, replying that at some points there is a healing process going on, but that he also believes that from its very nature it has to be quiet, it has to be personal. As one of the closing questions I asked Tom Hannon, whether his faith fostered his personal healing process, since I supposed it might have carried him through a lot of trouble in his own life. He provided me with an indirect answer, drifting off to another very moving instance, during the time around his daughter’s shooting.
“Yes, yes it did. Through a lot of things, you know. There’s another thing that I should tell you. Whenever Mary was shot, and she was in the Royal here, the Royal hospital, it happened in October, in November they took her to a London clinic, and you see I was working in Mackie’s, in the West factory, which was


further up the road here, up in this direction, just at the West circular road. One day I was handed an envelope. And in the envelope there was an Airline ticket to London, and about 20 pounds in spending money, so that I could go and visit her. Again, after that, there was another envelope given to me, because the people down in the main factory had heard about this, and they said “we want to be involved (too)”, so there was another round and I got another Airline ticket to be used when I wanted to, and about 40 pounds in spending money. And the majority of people working, we had three factories on the road, the majority of people working in those factories were Protestant. So you see there was a, there was that experience”.

As we can see from the preceding excerpts, there is no linear road to healing. Wherever people have suffered from prolonged traumatization emanating from experienced violence, the healing process is slow. And though it may get ruptured from time to time, this process is happening, with the joint effort of numerous organizations like Cornerstone. In the course of the conversation we also touched upon the question whether there is healing in the political process that Northern Ireland has been facing since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Tom Hannon outlined a problematic that I had been expecting as an outside observer of the political scene in Northern Ireland. The Peace Process, he replied, was slow and eroding. A major problem, he remarked, was and still is the non-recognition of Republican/Nationalist efforts by various Protestant/Unionist parties. He indicated that the Peace Process had been a rather one-sided affair up from the late 1990s. Whenever the IRA or the Republican movement have made a significant step towards peace, this effort has been met by the non-recognition of Unionist parties to bring Loyalist paramilitaries to a mutual process of disarmament and disbanding. Writing these pages in early October 2006, the IRA has believably put their armed struggle to a rest, in order to engage in a peaceful struggle to achieve their goals for Northern Ireland. On October 4th 2006 the IRA’s effort was even recognized by an independent commission monitoring the process of the disbanding of the IRA. Still, it will take time for Protestant/Unionist leadership in Northern to recognize the necessity of their prolonged engagement in a process of healing and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Earlier in this chapter I have discussed the possibilities of a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation for Ulster. Such a commission is essential in providing a just framework that incorporates the possibility for a healing for everyone who has been affected by the conflict. 115

I want to end this chapter with an open letter from Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire to the IRA called “A New Vision”. The letter was written in the wake of the paramilitary ceasefires in December 1993 and was then been published in the local newspaper Irish News. It may be read as a call for peace, and a cry for healing.
"A chara - Brother/Sister “ “You will have noticed very often how salty are the tears that roll down into your mouth. I often experience this, especially when I sit in the little Chapel of Adoration on the Falls Road in Belfast, where I am now writing this letter. I find myself today, experiencing here even more deeply, the pain of the people of this community; and I weep at the pitiableness of it all. I was born a short distance away and went to school around the corner in St. Vincent's. Here is home: this is where I come from. I love this place. More than that, I love the people of this community. Some will say 'you moved away, you live in the country now.' I do. But suffering from a distance heightens the pain of separation and solitude. Thankfully, the pain has eased, and often turns to joy when I talk to the people living along this road. They have a deep faith, a faith which leads to hope and perseverance. They know all will be well. For many years they have prayed for peace, as have many others in Northern Ireland. Here, though, the desire for peace is passionate, tangible: you feel you could reach out and touch it. Without their having to explain it to you, you know that the people here have a deep sense of what peace is, and what peace is not - something born in them out of a long history of never knowing real peace. The question they always ask me, but now even more so, is whether there will be genuine peace. I sense in this community an excited anticipation that the time is now, and that the opportunity for a genuine peace has never been greater. The people want this creative peace; they yearn for it, they cry out, they pray for it, with an earnestness that inspires and energizes me. There have been times before, though not so intense, when people have cried out for peace. In 1976 during the Peace People rallies, more than half million people (north and south) walked for peace. This movement began when my sister Anne and her husband Jackie's three children, Joanne (8), John (3) and Andrew (6 weeks old) were killed in a clash between the army and the IRA. On the day the three children were buried - August 14, 1976 - I took roses off their grave and brought them to Mrs. Lennon. She was the mother of Danny Lennon, your young comrade who had been shot through the head by a soldier and whose car had swerved off the road killing the three children and injuring Anne. I mourned for young Danny Lennon and shared the grief of his family. I hoped and prayed at the time that his death and the deaths of my niece and nephews would be the end of all violent deaths in our country. They were not. In the past 25 years more than 3,000 people have died leaving unimaginable suffering and pain to their families. You, and your comrades in the IRA take responsibility for your part in causing this. All of you in your time will want to say 'sorry.' And so will others who for their reasons have inflicted so much pain on


fellow human beings here. You and your comrades are not strangers to suffering. In the days ahead as you choose between the peace framework in the joint declaration or the 'armed struggle'; Bobby Sands and many others will be in your thoughts. You will want to remain faithful to their sacrifice for a free and United Ireland. That's only human! But change is also part of being human. As John Henry Newman says: 'In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change; and to be perfect is to have changed often.' In the republican movement you are now faced with the need to change radically - to move away from the 'armed struggle' and into a nonviolent alternative. Your right to your political aspiration and national identity has been acknowledged. The way of active nonviolence is in tune with your Christian roots and heritage. You know that in your heart. As a child you learned to pray - 'Help me to live like Jesus' - Jesus with a machine gun does not come off as an authentic figure! It is time now for a new vision and a fresh wisdom. Wisdom means the tough decision to walk the path of nonviolence. That risk of faith will take all your courage. No one doubts your courage and no one doubts your ability to carry on the 'armed struggle.' However, I doubt your ability to turn a deaf ear to the cries of people for peace now. I know that you have a love for people in your heart and I pray that your heart and their hearts may be as one. A new vision and a fresh wisdom are not only necessary for the republican movement, they are necessary for the future of humanity. Each of us personally has to search in our own hearts to find these treasures. In my own journey, I have come to know for certain that every human life is sacred and a gift. We have no right to take this gift of life from another, as they have no right to take our gift. I have come to know for certain that our first identity is not nationalist or unionist, but our humanity. I have come to know for certain that love and compassion are the greatest and strongest forces operating in our world today. I believe and work for a nonviolent, demilitarized, northern Irish society, and I hope our friends in the south of Ireland will begin also to work for a demilitarized nonviolent Ireland. Then we will truly be a 'light' in a highly militarized world. Our suffering will then have been the birthpangs of a truly civilized people living together as the community of God's beloved people. I sith agus i muintearas losa, in the peace and in the company of Jesus, Siocháin, Peace, Shalom”. "Máiread." (Maguire/Peace People Leaflet 1993)

On July 25th 2005, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon the Irish Republican Army officially ended their armed campaign of the previous 35 years.


Pl. 32: Tile on the Big Fish showing the historic picture with U2 singer Bono holding up the arms of David Trimble and John Hume during an event in the Belfast City Hall in 1998 on the day before the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement.



The intellectualisation of Rock and Roll bands is a phenomenon that has occurred often in and outside the music business during the last five or six decades, the time span in which Rock and Roll has changed the face of music. It has happened to bands like The Doors, the Beatles, Pink Floyd or The Talking Heads, artists like Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen and Kurt Cobain, and it happened to genres within Rock like Glam and Punk (again Bowie, The Velvet Underground, and The Clash). And it most certainly happened to Pop in the incarnations of Police and Sting, again Peter Gabriel, and, most significant for this chapter, U2. Dozens upon dozens of books have been published on all these big names of Rock and Roll history. Thus the intellectualization of Rock and Roll has been a well-practiced occupation over the last decades. The anthropologilization of Rock, and certain bands within in, most certainly is a marginal phenomena, and in my opinion long overdue for extension. This chapter will thus provide a dynamic that will bring an anthropological examination of the artistic and political work of the Irish quartet. The motivation for including such a chapter within this thesis can be well reasoned. The chapter shall be dedicated to the task of explaining my access to the thematic of this work that is linked to my personal background, which again is responsible for generating my interest in the conflict in Northern Ireland. This background first and foremost is inextricably linked to music, and in particular to the music of U2. Their music, and the work and beliefs related to it, encapsulate and express the topic of this thesis: the pain, suffering, mourning and remembering of humans affected by manifold forms of violence. As such the “political” per se, and the politically critical element has been present from the very early days of the band’s work; thus U2 provide a rich ground of artistic content that deals with thematics relevant to this work. To properly understand the band’s engagement with such thematics, it is important to point out U2’s position towards terms like “fame” and “celebrity”. U2 are what the world outside of anthropology calls “Rock-superstars”. Unarguably (or arguably, this depends on the point of view) U2 have been and remain the most successful and relevant rock band in the history of rock 119

and roll after the death of Elvis Presley. The members of U2 enjoy global fame; they sell records worldwide, and the play concerts all over the surface of the planet. They talk about global issues related to violence and Human Rights; they speak up, and within their possibilities attempt to lend a voice to the voiceless. For this they are respected not only in the “western” world or seemingly the centres of world power, but also in the periphery, where the care for basic human needs cannot be taken for granted, and the mastering of everyday life becomes a challenge with the dawn of every new day.

Pl. 33: U2 in 2005 during their Vertigo Tour. Photograph courtesy of Kevin Westenberg.

In the widest sense one could reasonably state that U2’s music and political work expresses and channels trauma and healing in many places of the world. U2 concerts in Buenos Aires pick up different political topics than concerts in South Africa, Israel, Northern Ireland or Bosnia (as in the city of Sarajevo in August 1997). Nevertheless all share a common goal and transcend a common message: bringing people physically together in one place with thousands of others, making them aware of political problematics elsewhere in the world, picking those up and communicating them, and finally making an effort to bringing people together on an ideal-based level, reconciling them, communicating both sameness and differences. “One, but not the same” 120

(U2 1991:3); so goes a lyric-line of one of rock history’s most renowned songs. Does it sound humanistic, pathetic or even messianic? Well, maybe; but anyway. This chapter will provide two main viewing angles or rather themes for the examination of U2’s work in relation to trauma and healing. On the one hand this will be, as indicated above, the reflection of pain, suffering, trauma, mourning, healing and reconciliation in the musical and political work of the band. Within this first complex I will outline their ethical background, some of their humanitarian work, and trace thematics such as violence, pain and suffering, mourning and healing in their songs and lyrics. A second angle will focus on U2’s relation to the conflict in Northern Ireland, and its undeniable relevance for the band’s work and its presence within it. Here again lyrics will have a significant importance, but also the visual representation of the band’s songs over various tours will play a role. Before though I begin to outline the mentioned thematics, I want to briefly outline my personal relation to U2’s music, and their role in getting me interested in the study of the anthropology of violence and conflict.

My personal experience and relation to the music of U2 stems back to my childhood days. I have a conscious memory of the band’s music back to 1984, when at the age of seven I heard “Pride (In the name of love)” (U2 1984:2) and “The Unforgettable Fire” (U2 1984:4) playing on the radio. I remember “With or Without You” (U2 1987:3) whispering into my ear while still going to primary school. Then the 1990s arrived, and the United States of America were at war with Iraq. “Desert Storm” as a vocabulary made its way into billions of minds around the world, and also found its way into the work of the four “boys” from Dublin in the megalomania and absurdity of ZOO TV. Testimonies of fighter pilots in Iraq were flickering from giant screens, in which they described their bombing raids like computer games; only the raids were “more realistic” (U2 1992). The two records behind ZOO TV, Achtung Baby (U2 1991) and Zooropa (U2 1993) became two of the most celebrated works of the Irish quartet. During this tour U2 established a satellite link up to the besieged city of Sarajevo. Night after night people would tell their experiences from war to a rock and roll audience in a stadium somewhere in Europe. War, violence and traumatic experience were invading rock and roll megalomania and instantly made ZOO TV in all its absurdity one of the truest and most honest moments in U2 history. After a dozen nights exposed to the stories from the people of a war torn city, the band decided to end the linkups, which had become a balance on a very thin line 121

for U2. Despite the wish of the band to organise a secret concert in Sarajevo, the plan was not fulfilled for this tour. Four years later, in the summer of 1997, the band managed to organise a regular concert of the then rolling POPMART Tour. The reason I mention it in this part of the chapter is, because U2’s link to the war in Ex-Yugoslavia made a big impression on me, and it fostered my interests between music and my engagement in violence and conflict studies within anthropology. As a musician, U2’s work has made an even deeper impression on me. Around the time of ZOO TV, at the age of fifteen, I became a guitar player. U2 were not my initial motivation to learn the instrument, but I soon became attached to their wide and atmospheric sound. My interest in Ireland, which I already outlined in the introduction of this thesis, seemed to perfectly fit with the band’s music. This was the beginning of a journey that has not ended yet. As a guitar player (and previously a piano player) I became interested in the more technical side of the music very soon, and up to the time of writing this thesis I was able to collect extensive knowledge of the sound universe created by U2’s guitar player The Edge. It is this special relationship I established towards the music and work of U2, which has provided a good part of the energy that I put into my anthropological work, and which has helped me to frame the thematic that is outlined within this thesis.

U2’s artistic work is inextricably linked to efforts regarding humanitarian aid, and a certain sense of “being there”, a concept that is one of anthropology’s most fundamental guidelines when it comes to carrying out fieldwork. The night the Berlin Wall came down, U2 were on board of one of the last aircrafts that arrived in the city. The band wanted to experience the historic change that was made in the days of November 1989 and the euphoria linked to it, a feeling that would spark and severely influence the making of their legendary ACHTUNG BABY record (U2 1991), which they partly recorded in Hansa Studios, only meters away from the Wall. A visit to Ethiopia by Bono and his wife Alison Hewson in 1985 fostered what would become a life long preoccupation with the achievement of justice for the “have nothing at alls”, the achievement of sustainable aid for the poorest of the poor that not only channeled Millions of aid money to the African continent, but established means of self-aid for millions of suffering people. During this visit, U2’s singer Bono was confronted by a desperate man, who wanted the 122

singer to take his baby with him to Ireland, because it would have a better chance of surviving in Ireland, whereas it would most certainly die of starvation if it remained in Ethiopia. The request had to be turned down, but the event ignited a life-long engagement in the singer to achieve something that meant a lasting change for those, who were denied the most basic means to make an everyday life. Thus in the years after 1985, also amplified by the now legendary LIVE AID concerts organised by Bob Geldof, U2 as a group addressed a number of big political issues that represented and encapsulated huge trauma for millions of people around the world. At the same Bono’s tireless efforts for the recognition of the emergencies of numerous countries on the African continent, all share the healing of spirits injured by unpayable debt, the lack of fair trade and the pressing issue of AIDS. These concerns have become known under various tag-names over the last few years, among them Jubilee 2000, DATA (, which is an abbreviation for Debt, Aids, Trade For Africa), and the most recent Make Poverty History campaign in Europe ( (called the ONE Campaign in the United States of America []), which has the aim of bringing the issue of the AIDS pandemic in numerous African countries to the attention of millions of people around the globe, in order to get people to pressure their local governments to take action. The RED campaign ( is another effort to build people’s awareness around the AIDS issue in Africa. RED is carried by a number of globally known brands, who distribute a line of their products that donates a significant part of their sales from the product line to AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria related issues hosted by the Global Fund. RED describes itself as “an innovative partnership of governments, non-profit organizations, and the private sector” ( / 17.05.2006). Other human rights efforts U2 is engaged in include a long term support for the work of Amnesty International (, and a more recent effort called The Burma Campaign (, fighting the injustice in Burma, a country which U2’s website explains as “a country of 47 million people (that) is ruled by fear” and in which “a military machine of 400,000 soldiers denies a whole nation its most basic rights” ( / 17.05.2006). Apart from Bono’s efforts other band and family members have been closely engaged in various political efforts. Guitarist The Edge has co-initiated Music Rising (, a campaign to help victims of hurricane Katrina that devastated the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas and states in the late summer of 2005. Music Rising seeks to replace lost instruments and equipment for local musicians, who lost their means to make a daily living in the chaos of the devastation Katrina brought with it. 123

Bono’s wife Alison Hewson is a co-initiator, long time supporter and campaigner for the Chernobyl Children’s Project (, which since it’s establishment in 1991 has delivered more than 50 million Euros “in direct and indirect humanitarian aid to the Chernobyl region” and “continues to develop long-term sustainable community-based solutions, providing effective humanitarian assistance while advocating for the rights of the victims and survivors of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster” ( / 18.05.2006). In relation to the war in Ex-Yugoslavia, friend and legendary producer Brian Eno has supported an initiative called War Child, which sought to help displaced children throughout Bosnia and other Balkan regions to find back home or help them building a new existence after the war. A mission statement of War Child sums up their efforts as follows: “The severe psychological wounds that war inflicts on children can scar them for life, crippling the very generations that must one day rebuild their devastated countries. For the future peace of the world we must do everything in our power to help these war children” ( / 18.05.2005). Despite these various testimonies of support for aid-initiatives and organizations, we have to consider U2’s efforts on expressing these issues and concerns in their music. As a rock group of global fame U2 are artists, and most of their expression is therefore artistic or embedded in an artistic background. They are celebrities, and they are very conscious of this status. Instead of taking this status for granted they are known to consider it superficial and misleading in many respects. A quote from their most recent record How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb exemplifies this in a nice way, where Bono sings “some things you shouldn’t get too good at, like smiling, crying and celebrity” (U2 2004:10). U2 use their fame and credibility as artists as a currency to achieve humanitarian goals. It is in this sense that the singer’s tireless efforts to address high ranking politicians and executives of global enterprises around the world can be understood.

5.3.1. Trauma and Healing in U2’s Song-Work
U2’s work in songs and lyrics in relation to the thematic of trauma and healing first manifested with the release of the band’s fourth studio record “The Unforgettable Fire” (U2 1984). The title itself derived from a wandering exhibition of the same name the band saw at the Chicago Peace Museum in the early 1980s. The exhibition consisted of paintings of survivors of the Hiroshima


and Nagasaki bombings in 1945, which were outpourings of the horror, suffering and grief of the survivors. Guitarist The Edge recalls the visit of the exhibition and its effect on the band as such:
“Painting was part of the therapy to help these people purge themselves of their internalized emotions. The image of that purging quality, coupled with the insight it gave into the horror of the nuclear holocaust, stuck in Bono’s mind. Later we found the title fit the new record in many ways, especially in reflecting its multicoloured textures” (in Stokes 2005:54).

The exhibition’s name would lend its title to both the record and a song it contained. The Unforgettable Fire also contained two songs that referred to the work and beliefs of Reverend Martin Luther King. King became one of Bono’s intellectual leading figures in the coming years. The songs referring to him were “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2 1984:2) and the record’s closing track simply titled MLK (U2 1984:10). The singer’s infatuation with the works and beliefs of King would became decisive throughout U2’s further career. Pride gave the band a level of success and opportunities that they had not had up to that point. Their involvement in one of the two LIVE AID concerts in 1985 boosted the band's career in an unforeseen way. The path of addressing humanitarian issues U2, which had chosen with the Unforgettable Fire continued and manifested itself significantly in their performance at this mega-event. In 1986 U2 participated in the “Conspiracy Of Hope” tour, a number of concerts for the human rights organization Amnesty International. It was most certainly these experiences, and the confrontation with issues related to violence, state terror, and the pain and suffering of victims that remarkably influenced the work on their following record. “The Joshua Tree” (U2 1987), which catapulted U2 to worldwide fame, has been one of the band’s darkest records to date. It picked up on many themes that the band got confronted with during their concerts for Amnesty International. The political background of many of the record’s songs was on hand. Songs such as „Bullet the Blue Sky” (U2 1987:4) are a clear criticism of the politics of the Reagan and Thatcher eras in the 1980s, in which Bono painted an apocalyptic landscape of terror, pain and violence. “Where The Streets Have No Name” (U2 1987:1) seeks for a place that is bereft of violence, of “sorrow and pain” (U2 1987:1). “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2 1982.2), a gospel tune at heart, talks about the bigot politics of the Catholic Church around the world, especially in conflict torn places such as Central America, or, after all, Northern Ireland.


One of Bono’s journeys in 1985/86 brought him to El Salvador and Nicaragua. The realizations that came with the visit of these places had a profound effect on the darkness of the music and lyrics in The Joshua Tree. Thematics like violence, and the dark side of mankind and human agency (“Exit”), war, military regimes and death squads, famine and poverty, social instability (“Red Hill Mining Town”), all these themes found their way into the record. One of the band’s most remarkable songs in relation to trauma and healing is the song “Mothers Of The Disappeared” (U2 1987:11). As the title of the song already unmistakably indicates, the song is dedicated to the Madres de la Plaza del Mayo, the Mother of the Disappeared, an Argentinean organization of women, whose husbands and sons were disappeared by the military junta ruling the country in the 1970s and 1980s. Likely organizations existed throughout Latin America. Bassist Adam Clayton recalls the background and the genesis of the song as such:
”I think it was an experience that really hit home with Bono, when he was in Central America and in El Salvador, and realize that there was this movement of mothers, who really didn’t know what had happened to their children, or their husbands, or their lovers, and that had no recognition of those people had just been taken away in the night and never been heard of again. And consequently the sound, which was a sound Brian (Eno) came up with for that loop that starts of “Mothers”, was very very evocative of that sinister „death squad” darkness” (Classic Albums 1998: The Joshua Tree).

The song conveys a sinister atmosphere, with gunshots and eerie sonic scapes that sound like barbed wire. The melody and lyrics of the song is a quiet lament, a testimony to the Mother’s suffering, their loss, their remembering, a call for justice, and a call for certainty about the remains of their relatives:
“Midnight, our sons and daughters / Were cut down and taken from us / Hear their heartbeat / We hear their heartbeat / In the wind we hear their laughter / In the rain we see their tears / Hear their heartbeat / We hear their heartbeat / Night hangs like a prisoner / Stretched over black and blue / Hear their heartbeat / We hear their heartbeat / In the trees our sons stand naked / Through the walls our daughters cry / See their tears in the rainfall” (U2 1987:11).

The 1990s lead U2 away from the stark and brutal honesty of records such as “The Unforgettable Fire” and “The Joshua Tree”. With the creation of “Zoo TV” and the various alter egos that Bono transformed in during the Zoo TV concerts, the band embarked on a journey of irony, sarcasm and mockery. Giant video screens and a taste of rock and roll megalomania defined U2’s stage performances during the years of the early 1990s. Beneath all the irony and the seeming sarcasm though the band stayed true to their most basic principles. Only few critics and commentators back then realized that they irony and sarcasm U2 had played with during Zoo TV merely was a criticism of the media overflow, the medialization of war, and the mega 126

consumerism that dictated people’s lives in first world countries. In the heart of Zoo TV people and human experience still mattered more than anything else. The before mentioned satellite linkups to the besieged city of Sarajevo were an ultimate testimony to this notion. The exposure of human fates that were beamed across football stadiums all over Europe had a profound effect on the band and their Zoo TV concept. In fact it led to an emotional meltdown for U2, an experience which triggered the engagement to bring a concert of the tour to the city of Sarajevo. Zoo TV couldn’t keep that promise, but in 1997 the band managed to bring their tour into Bosnia Hercegovina and organize a regular concert of their then rolling POPMART tour: U2 did not compromise anything regarding the built-up of the stage. The tour personnel met every possible difficulty that might emerge in a fresh post-conflict zone; but with the help of aid workers and staff of the United Nations, everything turned out to be fine, and the band were able to play a regular show. Tickets were sold for low prices of approximately 18 US dollars, though still rather expensive for locals. Then, U2 were the first major rock band to play the city; their concert was well received, even if the mood during the show is rather different than in most other cities the band played on the tour. The concert was an act of healing for locals, a sign of the recognition of people’s suffering, and a gesture that for one day in Bosnia-Hercegovina all the differences between ethnic groups could be overcome, and people could be brought together. In October 2000 U2 released a record that became a catalyst for the trauma and healing of the events of September 11th 2001. “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” (U2 2000) encapsulates a lot of different layers of issues that are very close and personal to the band. It can be considered U2’s soul record. Many of the songs are about the break-up of relationships and a new beginning (“Beautiful Day” [U2 2000:1]), the loss of dear friends (“Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” [U2 2000:2]), about faith, “grace” and the inspiration that comes from it, and about Northern Ireland (“Peace On Earth [U2 2000:8]). One song on the record, “Walk On” (U2 2000:4), is dedicated to the Burmese 1991 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and a testimony of the band’s admiration for the courageous freedom activist, who sacrificed her stable western life, in order to fight for the freedom of the Burmese people. After September 11th 2001, U2 were the first major rock act to play in the city of New York. Many of the songs off All That You Can’t Leave Behind were added a bitter-sweet taste in the aftermath of the traumatic events. During these concerts the band again launched something that expanded the meaning of the events in a significant way. On a number of screens that were used for certain parts of the concerts, a projection of the victim’s names of 9/11 were scrolled 127

down. Many in the audience knew one or the other person listed on these screens, either from a close personal relationship or through a friend. The impact was huge. U2 seemed capable to channel people’s feelings and emotions after the attacks in a way that did not give in to the blind patriotism that swept the United States after 9/11, but rather produced a “real” and genuine acknowledgement of the pain and suffering of those, who attended U2’s concerts in those days and weeks. Thus again, the band were able to be a healing force for their audience.

Pl. 34: Screen with names of victims of 9/11 during U2’s performance at the Superbowl final in early 2002.

The previous pages have intended to trace a genuine interest of U2 in issues that relate to the problematics of trauma and healing. The band’s root to this notion of course can be found in the place, where the four member of the band grew up, namely in Ireland, and in particular the Ireland that is marked and also defined by the period of the modern Northern Irish conflict.


U2’s confrontation and intellectual occupation with the conflict in the North of Ireland must be traced back long before what later became U2 was actually formed. Most significant in this regard probably is Bono’s childhood. Growing up in a mixed confessionaly mixed household, his mother was Protestant, his father Roman-Catholic. In the Ireland of the 1960´s and 1970´s this meant being torn between a religious divide that drew lines not only in Northern Ireland but also down in the South. Even if this chronic divide was not an issue in Bono’s own family, it was a strong theme in his neighbourhood, on the North side of Dublin, where he and drummer Larry Mullen grew up. With Adam Clayton (bass guitar) being born in England and coming to Ireland as a young boy, and The Edge (Dave Evans) being born in Wales and arriving in Ireland with his parents as a baby, all four of them were close to the Troubles in Northern Ireland reflected into the Republic. Experiencing this dichotomy between religion and faith, U2, as individuals and as a group, got alienated from religion at a very early stage in their lifes, and their careers. Three of the four members of the band, namely Bono, The Edge and Larry Mullen can be considered as practicing Christians, whereas Adam Clayton never was a part of such spiritual endeavours. The contradictory implications that arise out of these circumstances are utterly significant for the understanding of the band’s career and their position towards the conflict in the North. The involvement of Bono, Edge and Larry with a Christian sect called Shalom until 1982 severely influenced their views on religion as an organised form of faith. All three of them very soon became alienated from the group’s practices and its leader’s viewpoints. The leaving of Shalom fostered in the band, what is a central part of their work up until the most recent times, namely a strong Christian belief that is not blind towards the humanistic implications of faith. Thus the U2’s relationship with the Catholic Church can be considered as equally conflicted, as the band has deplored the Church’s lack of humanism in regard to its politics in Ireland and regarding the African continent. The faith and the beliefs of all four members of U2 has also fostered a strong anti-violent bias in the band’s work throughout their career. This manifested itslef already in the 1980s, when despite their naivety the band’s live performances were a powerful statement of the breaking of chains that divided people from each other, and that set them apart through different political belief systems. U2 have always sought to transcend these boundaries and have therefore produced a significant number of songs that deal both with the conflict in Northern Ireland and the related issues of trauma, remembering and healing.


Two of the earliest songs in U2’s career that have been interpreted to be referring to the conflict in the North of Ireland can be found on the band’s second record OCTOBER (U2 1982). The first of these is “Tomorrow” (U2 1982:6). As the Irish music journalist Niall Stokes explains “there was a time when Bono used to talk about “Tomorrow” as a song about what was happening in Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 80s. In an atmosphere of deepening sectarian conflict and savagery, a knock on the door increasingly became a sinister invitation to accept a bullet in the head. No one knew for certain what was waiting for them when they “opened the door, opened the door”…” (Stokes 2005:30). Later Bono claimed the song to be about his mother Iris, who died when he was only fourteen, leaving him with a traumatic loss, which had a profound effect on the band’s work. “Tomorrow” offers a musical background that is distinctively Irish in character. Considering the fact that the band were not very much involved with traditional Irish music, the use of these characteristics opens the song to a linkage to the Northern Irish conflict. Uillean pipes and bodhrans open the song, then Bono comes in with his lyrics1 singing about the longing for a person, the fear of a person not coming back home, sleeplessness, the knock on a door, a black car on a street, the fear of answering the door, the breaking of doors and windows, and the praying that the person who went away will come back “tomorrow” (U2 1982:6). The lyrics bear every sign that is characteristic to traumatic experience in Northern Ireland: fear of loss, fear of death, and the experience of violent action that seeks to harm and endanger the victim’s life. With the knocking and breaking of doors and windows, the song’s lyrics could refer to Loyalist death squad killings in a Catholic neighbourhood. As mentioned though the song mostly refers to Bono’s deceased mother, and the circumstances under which the singer had to face her death and the loss that came with it. A second song on OCTOBER is “Stranger In A Strange Land” (U2 1982:9). The song tells of an encounter with a soldier. Originally this refers to a journey of the band to Berlin through the corridor that went through East Germany linking West Germany and the western part of Berlin. Bono refers to the song as “a little portrait” of a border guard. Clearly again there’s more than only one implication in the lyrics. As Stokes explains “it’s been speculated that the soldier could as easily have been a British Army squaddie in Northern Ireland but at most that’s an undercurrent” (Stokes 2005:33). Such a clear reference to the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland in the song might have brought the band a lot of trouble that could have harmed their personal safety at the time.
1 For the complete lyrics of this and other U2 songs that will be mentioned within this chapter please go to the Appendix.


U2 viewpoints should become a lot clearer with their next record. The in February 1983 released WAR more or less bore its heart on the sleeve through its title. The main topics and messages of the set of songs found on WAR „was the band’s vision of political conflicts throughout the world, as well as on personal inner struggles they have been experiencing” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:38). The record was a strong statement about the world the band found themselves in. It not only can be linked to the Northern Irish conflict, but also strongly refers to various social movements in Europe at the time. As such the song “New Year’s Day” (U2 1983:3) refers to the Polish Solidarnos movement. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” can be considered U2’s most significant song relating to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Throughout the band’s career this song has lived though many incarnations and contemporary contexts.

5.4.1. Sunday Bloody Sunday
WAR’s first track, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (U2 1983:1) refers to the two “Bloody Sundays” in Northern Ireland’s recent history, the first on November 21 1920 in Dublin’s Croke Park, the second on January 30 1972 in Derry. Taking a look at the lyrics reveal a spectrum of topics featured in this thesis, namely trauma, pain and suffering, but also hope and healing. The song starts out with the lines: „I can’t believe the news today / and I can’t close my eyes and make it go away / How long / how long must we sing this song / how long / how long”. The lyrics reflect pain and anger, but also make obvious the band’s anti-violence stance in the following lines: „Broken bottles under children’s feet / bodies strewn across the dead end street / but I won’t heed the battle call / It puts my back up / puts my back up against the wall / Sunday Bloody Sunday” and further „and the battle has just begun / there’s many lost but tell me who has won / the trenches dug within our hearts / a mother’s children brothers sisters torn apart” and in between almost like a prayer „How long / how long must we sing this song / how long / how long” reaching up to a powerful line of hope: „Cause tonight / we can be as one / tonight.” The song is embedded in staggering, machine-gun like beats provided by Larry Mullen and driving guitars delivered by The Edge. On top of it all Bono screams out his lyrics. After the guitar solo, which sounds like a small anti war anthem, drums and guitars go into a sharp, march-like staccato for the middle eight over which the singer exclaims: „Wipe the tears off your face / wipe your tears away / ah wipe your bloodshed eyes.” The song concludes with the final verse: „And it’s true we are immune / when fact is fiction and TV reality / and today the millions cry / we eat and drink while tomorrow they die / the real 131

battle ain’ t yet begun / to claim the victory Jesus won / on a Sunday Bloody Sunday / Sunday Bloody Sunday” (U2 1983/1:1). “When fact is fiction and TV reality” is another hammering line from the song that reaches out to the great famines in the Africa of the 1980s; but most certainly it also refers to the media reception of the Northern Irish conflict, the media war I have outlined earlier in this work. The line harshly criticizes the dynamics of deception, half-truths and lies that television produced in the conflict. The song sums up all of the band’s sentiments towards the conflict, and it all ends in a cry of desperation with the line “the real battle ain’ t yet begun / to claim the victory Jesus won”. This very line perfectly expresses the alienation that the band felt towards religion and any form of organized faith, a sentiment that most prominently featured again in their biggest hit to date, namely “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2 1987:2). “Sunday Bloody Sunday” had its live debut on December 1st 1982 at Glasgow’s Tiffany’s. The audience at the club „receive the song reasonably well” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:35/36). At this very early performances the band was not very optimistic about the survival of the song; in Leicester (Dec. 3rd) Bono explains referring to the song’s lyrics ”you’ll never hear it on the radio” and a few days later in London he admits ”for a long time I have been frightened to write about where I live, Ireland, and it’s problems. This is called Sunday Bloody Sunday. This is not a rebel song” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:36). A later famous version of this introduction is spoken at St. Goarhausen´s Loreley Amphitheatre in Germany on August 20th 1983 where Bono states: „There’s been a lot of talk about this next song, maybe, maybe too much talk. This song is not a rebel song, this song is Sunday Bloody Sunday” (U2 1983/2:5). The song is well received in Belfast, and at a concert in Liverpool in March 1983 Bono tells the audience:
„People said that we couldn’t write a song like this next song. They said that we didn’t live in Derry or Belfast, we live in Dublin. Well, the bombs may not go off in Dublin but they are made there and I’m opposed to any kind of violence. I feel that we have the right to sing this song, called Sunday Bloody Sunday” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:41).

From there on the song is a permanent item in U2’s setlist up to the first leg of their infamous Zoo TV Outside Broadcast Tour through the United States. On June 29th 1985 the band play in their hometown Dublin in Croke Park, the place where the original Bloody Sunday took place in 1920. Just before U2 „belt out a savage version that unifies an audience which participate en masse in this song of hope and aggressive pacifism” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:72) Bono tells the crowd:


„This is a song I wish we didn’t have to write - but we had to write it, and we want to play it. One day Irishmen will stop fighting each other over the past. They will live and work together in the present. This is not the future: Sunday Bloody Sunday.” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:71/72)

Performances of the song obviously take Bono to the edge of his mental and emotional resilience time and again throughout the tour. Playing Belfast in June numerous flags show up in the audience having Bono scream: „You can put down the flags, we don’t need any flags…we’re sick of all flags” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:105), another concert at San Francisco on November 11th 1987 has Bono shouting at a fan holding up a „SF U2” sign wether „this is a girl’s name or if it stands for Sinn Féin” and adding: „I don’t know how you can stand or stomach to wave that sign this week” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:116). The background to his reaction is the disastrous bombing of a remembrance parade by the IRA only a few days before on November 8th, killing eleven people and injuring sixty-three. The bomb, which was originally meant for attacking a unit of Security Forces, had set off prematurely. The attack was met by outrage of the Protestant community of the village (Taylor 1997:278). On this very day the band played at Denver’s Mc Nichols Arena and according to Pimm Jal de la Parra the show is „fuelled by outrage as U2 hear the news” of the bombing. What follows is an „explosive set”, resulting in the infamous speech during „Sunday Bloody Sunday” that also made its way in the concert film „Rattle and Hum” (U2 1988). Before the song, Bono starts out with a speech:
„Well, here we are: „The Irish in America”. The Irish have been coming to America for years, going back to the great famine when the Irish were on the run from starvation, and the British government they couldn’t care less. Right up to today, you know, there are more Irish immigrants here in America today than ever. Some illegal, some legal. A lot of them were just running from high unemployment, some run from the Troubles in Northern Ireland, from the hatred of the H-Blocks, and torture, others from wild exceed terrorism, like we had today in a town called Enniskillen, where eleven people lay dead, many more injured, on a Sunday Bloody Sunday” (U2 1988:23/author’s transcription).

During the middle part of the song Bono continued his speech, only this time in a more furious and heated way:
„Well, let me tell you something. I’ve had enough of Irish-Americans who haven’t been back to their country in 20 or 30 years come up to me and talk about the resistance, the revolution „back home”…and the „glory” of the revolution, and the „glory” of dying for the revolution. FUCK THE REVOLUTION! They don’t talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What’s the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and children? Where’s the glory in that? Where’s the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for


the day? Where’s the glory in that? To leave them dying or crippled for life or dead under the rubble of a revolution that the majority of the people in my country don’t want. NO MORE! (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:116 and author’s transcription).

It is as obvious as Bono would ever get in regard to the conflict. The consequences of this speech for the band have been quite considerable. In early 2004 Journalist Michka Assayas asked Bono about the aftermath of the speech and the threats linked to it from the IRA or Sinn Féin’s side. Bono explained:
“No direct threats. Just a sense you pissed them off. I hear Gerry Adams took down a U2 poster from Sinn Féin office. He certainly referred to me as “a little shit” in a major press interview. It’s not helpful when the leader of an armed struggle who has support in every working-class neighbourhood, and a lot of maniacs on his side, calls you a “little shit”. It doesn’t make your life easier” (Bono in Assayas 2005:172).

Bono here referred to an issue that was not even public at the time of the interview; namely that U2 had been given severe personal security by the British MI5 and MI6 in the late 1980s, a fact later in the years uncovered by a major Irish newspaper Sunday Bloody Sunday was removed from U2’s setlists in late 1992. The band only again took up the song on their next tour, POPMART. As previously in this chapter stated, the satellite linkups in 1993 to the then besieged city of Sarajevo, lead in 1997 to the realization of a concert in Sarajevo during U2’s POPMART tour. The band made every possible effort to stay true to their wish to play a regular concert in a city that had not long before severely suffered from war. A machinery of organization was set loose to make this concert in Sarajevo’s Kosevo Stadium happening on September 23rd 1997. Rumours went around that the grounds of the stadium had been used for shootings and subsequent mass graves, something that was neither confirmed nor denied at the time the concert takes place (Ö1 Hörbilder 20.12.1997 and DeLaParra/Van Oosten DeBoer 2003:212). Most of the infrastructure for the event was improvised from scratch, and the tour personnel struggled hard to bring the band on stage. The overall mood during the show was filled with rage, pain and euphoria, making it one of the most moving and dense moments during the whole tour. Probably because Bono suffered from severe voice problems, the band decided on a solo performance by The Edge, which turned out to be a softly sung and immensely graceful rendition of the song, and probably hit the mood in the stadium like no other song on that evening. Edge’s solo version kept its spot for the rest of the tour.


U2´s 2001 Elevation Tour made the song a permanent inventory in the band’s setlist again, highlighting with a couple of dense and euphoric versions, among them a performance at Slane Castle, Ireland and another remarkable one at New York’s Madison Square Garden. 2001 also marks only one year of so many in the slow-moving Peace Process of the postagreement era in Northern Ireland. The main topic was and partly still is (2006) the decommissioning process of paramilitary organizations. Concessions from the IRA in this regard have met deaf ears on the Unionist/Loyalist side ever since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Thus despite all the joy and enthusiasm that accompanies the Agreement, the years of implementation become another very hard test for people in both parts of Ireland. The implementation of institutions, the reforming of the police service, further reforms in the housing sector, the labour market and the sector of education, but most of all the already mentioned decommissioning of paramilitary organizations, become rocks in the stony path of the post Agreement era. After seemingly endless talks the IRA agrees on a decommissioning process in the late summer of 2001, a move that thereafter was almost immediately rendered as a lost promise by radical Protestantism in Northern Ireland. With this background U2 play their homecoming concert at Slane Castle in early September 2001, which will go down in history as one of the most emotional and dense concerts on home soil ever played by the band. The decommissioning topic is all over the news in Ireland, and the Real IRA bomb of Omagh from August 1998 is still fresh on people’s minds both in the North and the South. Besides, the few weeks before the concert had cast an enormous amount of stress on Bono and the other band members. Due to the fact that Bono’s father was dying of cancer the singer chose to fly off to Dublin to visit his father in hospital after every night’s show. He died only days before the concert. The show itself, which was released on DVD as “U2 Go Home” in 2002 saw the most explicit version of „Sunday Bloody Sunday” since Bono’s famous outburst of emotions during the version from the Rattle and Hum movie in 1987. With more than 20 years of experience U2 deliver the song with breathtaking routine and maturity, but not less powerful and emotional than all the years before. During the middle part of the Bono starts urging the audience: ”Put your hands in the sky, put your hands in the air, if you’re the praying kind, turn this song into a prayer. Put your hands in the sky, put your hands in the air, if you’re the praying kind, ´cause we’re not going back there! No more! No More! No More! No More! No More! No More! No Paratroops! No Pertrolbombs! No Saracens! No UDA! No IRA! We’re not going back there! Put your hands in the sky, put your hands in the air! We thank the brave men, for making a brave choice! Wipe 135

your tears away, wipe your tears away! Three years after Omagh, turn this song into a prayer, three years after Omagh! Wipe your tears away”! (U2 2003:6/author’s transcription). Here Bono made a clear reference to various markers of the political landscape in Northern Ireland. Again the song is a call against violence, against the suffering and the pain that was inflicted upon people in the North. Interestingly enough, the lines were edited by the BBC during a re-broadcast of the concert. At the end of the song Bono read out the names of all members of the 1998 Omagh bombing. A dense and gripping moment that left the viewer with a choke in the throat.

5.4.2. Please, Get Up Off Your Knees
The stuck situation between political parties and the seemingly never ending quarrel between the protagonists of the Northern Irish peace process has brought U2 to statements they released on their 1997 “POP” record (U2 1997/a). Two songs on this record refer to the conflict in Northern Ireland. “Staring At The Sun” (U2 1997/c:5) bears the lyric “intransigence is all around / military still in town / armour plated suits and ties / daddy just won’t say goodbye / referee won’t blow the whistle / god is good but well he listen”. The lyrics unmistakably refer to the unending disharmony in Northern Ireland’s political landscape, the above mentioned quarrel and fighting, and they pick up on the ongoing British military presence in people’s everyday lifes, criticising the religious arguments and the sectarian divide that are so often brought on the table in peace talks. “Staring At The Sun” was released as a single; on its b-side another song originally written by Irish folk singer Christy Moore, can be found, namely “North And South Of The River” (U2 1997/c:2). As with most other songs, it’s lyrics encapsulate a certain ambiguity in its actual meaning. The song refers to the river Liffey that divides the city of Dublin in a Northern and a Southern part; but Moore of course mostly refers to the division of Ireland in North and South and the physical and mental lines that divide people from each other. The lyrics sound like a conversation about leading a relationship, about the good times and the bad times, about barriers and division, pain and hurt, a better day in the future, and about understanding and affection for each other. The closing lines of the song have again been interpreted as referring to events in the North, where it states “some high ground is not worth taking / some connections are not worth making / there’s an old church bell no longer ringing / some old songs are not worth bringing” (U2 1997/c:2). Again there’s ambiguity. The ground not worth taking might be physical ground, 136

but it as well might be argumentational ground, moral ground. The songs that are not worth bringing anymore, they might be issues, but they might as well be the songs played during Orange marches, which tear up Northern Ireland every summer around the time of the 12th of July. Another song off the same record that works in the band’s tradition of anti-war and anti-violence statements is the song “Please” (U2 1997/b:1). The song, which stands out as one of the finest moments in Bono’s lyric writing is a bitter and tearful observation of the difficult and at times faltering peace process in the post-ceasefire Northern Ireland of the middle of the 1990s. Again, the lyrics of course encapsulate more than one level of meaning. The song could be read as a personal conversation of the U2 singer with a person he might be disappointed of, but one can sense that there is much more at stake. Please, Stokes writes, is:
“a song about victimhood, self indulgence and hypocrisy. Written against the backdrop of the collapse of the ceasefire in Northern Ireland and the summer of conflict that ensued, with the siege of Drumcree and its tribal nadir, it could be addressed, in different verses, to people on either side of the sectarian divide. It could be addressed to individual citizens in the North. It could even be addressed to the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble” (Stokes 2005:137).

The impact of the meaning of the songs winds and shift through many levels. As mentioned the lyrics are,ambiguous. The lines are: „So you never knew love / Until you'd crossed the line of grace /And you never felt wanted / Till you had someone slap your face / And you never felt alive / Until you'd almost wasted away” (U2 1997/b:11). The lyrics are sung in a sad and depressed voice. As the song continues the lyrics become sharp personal side-sweeps against the main political figures of the stagnating peace process: „You had to win, you couldn't just pass / The smartest ass at the top of the class / Your flying colours, your family tree / And all your lessons in history” (U2 1997/b:11). Bono targets issues like ego, social class and descendence as arguments and as parts of a bigger picture of unwillingness to commit to the coming together of Catholics and Protestants. For the chorus though the song changes it’s character and turns into prayer with Bono lamenting ”Please, please, please / Get up off your knees now / Please, please, please / Leave it out”(U2 1997/b:11). The second verse can be read as a raid against Catholic/Nationalist political leaders in the North: ”So you never knew that the heaven you keep / You stole / Your Catholic blues, your convent shoes / Your stick-on tattoos, now they're making the news” (U2 1997/b:11) And it’s also the accusation of using violence and terror to achieve the means of the republican struggle and the bigotry it incorporates: ”Your holy war, your northern star / Your


sermon on the mount from the boot of your car” followed again by the chorus: ” Please, please, please / Get up off your knees now / Please, please, please / Leave it out” (U2 1997/b:11). From there on the song clearly changes into a kind of prayer. The lyrics include metaphors of street clashes („Shards of glass / Splinters like rain”) self pity („but you could only feel your pain”) and the call for participation in the peace talks („October, talk getting nowhere / November, December / Remember, are we just starting again”). For the final part, as with so many other U2 songs, it becomes clear that „love” must win over hatred and violence: „'Cause love is big, it's bigger than us / But love is not what you're thinking of” (U2 1997/b:11). The musical performance of the songs differs greatly between the first version of the song as released on U2’s POP album, and another one released as single. The album version features scarce sonic instrumentation, there’s samples of sounds swirling around, one during the middle part of the song, remarkably sounds like gunshots being fired over a snare-drum loop. The single version, which the band derived from the evolving live version of the song played during the POPMART tour, sounds overall a lot more finished and produced and dramatic. The live version though incorporates what defines the band’s sharp wit and the conscience for their own musical history. The snare drum loop in the middle part from the album version that becomes a little stronger in the single version, changes into the famous intro-beat of “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. It’s a simple musical statement that transcends time and space, and various events in between, and gives the song a particular identity. The visual representation of the song becomes another challenge that the band master to put to another distinct set of statements. When “Please” is released as a single, U2 choose to play with the idea of its cover: the band replace their original faces from the POP sleeve with four faces of protagonists of the Northern Irish politics. Adam, Bono, Larry and The Edge become Gerry Adams, David Trimble, John Hume and the Rev. Ian Paisley. This is a most explicit statement to an already unmistakeably political song. The video shoot of the song becomes an emotional affair for the band and the video’s director Anton Corbijn. The video features an artificial set of streets, “streets with no name”, and houses with faces that should give them a human feeling. Bono is performing his singing with a close-up on his face. There’s a marching band, a bald headed man with a naked torso, who’s back is tattooed with Iron Maiden’s Eddy, an image commonly used by Loyalist mural painters in Northern Ireland. There are young men tearing balaclavas over the faces as if preparing for a riot.


The video again becomes a very emotional affair for Bono, who is performing the lyrics with teary eyes towards the end of the shoot. The POPMART tour offered additional terrain for visual support for the live performance of the song. The tour travelled with the biggest LED video screen a rock show had ever seen. The screen functioned as an integral and moreover dominating part of the visual concept of the show and was used, not unlike ZOO TV, for flashing signs and messages, colourful comic strips and paintings of pop-art artist like Roy Liechtenstein, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol (Scrimgeour 2004:127). The screen visualized metaphors from Bono’s lyrics (e.g. „burning crosses” [U2 1987:4]) but also served as a big TV monitor for cameras that beamed the band’s stage performance on the huge visual outlet.

Pl. 35: Please Single Cover from 1997 with Gerry Adams, David Trimble, John Hume and Ian Paisley

During „Please” the screen first light up in a flashing green and then turned into a huge Irish Tricolour wandering across in a seemingly never ending loop, returning to green again. Musically the symbolism peaked when drummer Larry Mullen suddenly started playing the beat of Sunday Bloody Sunday for the middle part. For the end of the song Bono became painted in blood red shades. For some concerts during the European part of the tour the song was supported by images from the Northern Irish conflict.


Again, there was the Irish tricolour, but then the screen changed to random images: a Loyalist flag, Police and Army forces, a close-up of Gerry Adams, a Loyalist “No Surrender” mural, Ian Paisley, Unionist marchers and Loyalist paramilitary, British Prime minister John Major, an IRA mural that declares “Prepared For War, Ready For Peace”, John Hume, a Civil Rights march, and images from the IRA’s Docklands bombing in London that broke the ceasefires in 1996.

Pl. 36: Popmart screen with the Irish tricolour. Photograph copyright Otto Kitsinger 1997.

5.4.3. The Good Friday Agreement and the Omagh Bombing
As April 10th 1998 finally saw the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, a subsequent referendum in both the North and the South of Ireland was supposed to legitimize the agreement. The Referendum was set for May of the same year. On May 18th 1998, the night before the Referendum, a concert took place at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall to support a „Yes” vote. U2 agreed to attend under the special condition of bringing two main opposing figures of the peace process togethe out on the stager: John Hume and David Trimble. Before the band started into their last song Bono remarks: „It’s great to be in Belfast, a place where history is being made. I would like to introduce you to two men who are making history, two men who have taken a leap of faith, out of the past and into the future. We wanna join them, but first we want them to be joined together, with us. On this day” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:221). After that Hume and Trimble walked out onto the stage to join the band. The audience shared the euphoria and cheered when „the two politicians from opposite sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland shake hands in public for the first time, even though they 140

do not speak, history – and progress, is made” (De La Parra/Van Oosten De Boer 2003:221). A picture with Bono holding up both men’s arms up in the air appeared on the front page of dozens of papers in Ireland, Europe and America in the days after the concert, a photograph that was also rumoured to have had a decisive impact on the „Yes” vote of the Referendum.

Pl. 37: Bono onstage with David Trimble and John Hume at Waterfront Hall, Belfast May 18th 1998

Only weeks after the Referendum, on August 15th 1998 people’s hopes and dreams for peace in Ireland were once again brutally shattered, when in the centre of the town of Omagh a bomb planted by the Real IRA exploded, killing 29 people, injuring and maiming many more. The atrocities of the bombing once again scarred the hearts and minds of a war torn society, who were at this point, four years after the announcement of paramilitary ceasefires opposed to any sectarian violence and killing. The event shocked a whole nation, both North and South. The collective feeling of numbness that prevailed in both parts of Ireland led U2 to the writing of yet another song, “Peace On Earth” (2000:8), released on the band’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” record in 2001. Bono remembered the event and the subsequent writing of the song:
“ It was written literally on the day the Omagh bomb went off, right then. Nobody could actually believe it. In Ireland, when they read out the names of all the people who died on the six o’ clock news, the city just came to a complete standstill. People were just weeping – in cars, on O’Connell Street, all over the place. It was really a trauma for most people – because not only was it the destruction of lives, it was the destruction of the peace process, which had been put together with sticky tape and glue and tacks and a lot of faith. It seemed to be destroyed. It would be hard to describe to people who are not Irish what that felt


like that day. It was certainly the lowest day of my life, outside of personal losses. I couldn’t believe it that people could do that” (Bono in Stokes 2005:156).

“Peace On Earth” is a quiet and tender, and yet desperate and powerful tune. The lyrics are painfully personal, and express the singer’s grief for the bombing’s victims. Bono sings of people’s relation to each other in Ireland, how they solved their differences when he grew up, always fighting and hurting each other. He sings of crying mothers losing their sons to the Troubles in the line “No one cries like a mother cries / For peace on earth /She never got to say goodbye / To see the colour in his eyes / Now he’s in the dirt / That’s peace on earth” and Bono also directly picks up on the event, when the names of the dead came over the news: “They’re reading names out over the radio / All the folks the rest of us won’t get to know / Sean and Julia, Gareth, Ann and Breda / Their lives are bigger, than any big idea” (U2 2000:8). Only a year later at U2’s concert at Slane Castle Bono again read out the names of all those, who had been killed in the bombing. The song ends with the lines “Jesus this song you wrote / The words are sticking in my throat / Peace on Earth / Hear it every Christmas time / But hope and history won’t rhyme / So what’s it worth? / This peace on Earth” (U2 2000:8). Again there is an ambiguity in the lyrics: “Hear it every Christmas time / But hope and history won’t rhyme” unmistakably refers to the annual announcements of paramilitary Christmas ceasefires in Northern Ireland during the years of the conflict. These ceasefires were introduced a few days before Christmas and taken back two or three days after New Year. Each year the people of Northern Ireland were living through a strange truce, they knew that would not last. U2’s engagement in writing songs about pain, violence, suffering and trauma has always sought to overcome the uncertainty and the suffering that violence inflicts upon people, the state of trauma it leaves them in. This stance of the band prevails to this day, and up to their latest record released in late 2004 “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb” (U2 2004). While this record includes no song directly linked to the Northern Irish conflict, it nevertheless harbours many tunes of faith, courage and healing that is addressed to people in all parts of the world. The humanitarian issues the band had been concerned with during the precvious two decades again set the lyrical agenda for the record and mirror, maybe stronger than any other U2 record before, the Bono’s political work.



This thesis has brought together a wide range of topics, and a variety of different approaches from social- and cultural anthropology as well as from psychology. Naturally, many of these approaches would not be linked in the way I have chosen to do. I have tried to outline a space in which traumatic experience manifests itself in and after the Northern Irish conflict. I have argued that the conflict was defined by fluid frontlines, and by Interfaces, along which great parts of the violence that defined the conflict manifested. These frontlines and Interfaces built spaces of trauma, and defined what Taussig (1987) termed “spaces of terror” and “spaces of death”. Within these spaces violence becomes intrinsic. It takes over the victim’s life, as he/she has known it until then. Through the traumatic experience of violence his/her world is turned upside down and rendered meaningless. I have tried to make clear that the Northern Irish conflict was defined by what anthropology and political sciences call “state terror”. This manifested itself in the systematic discrimination of the Catholic minority of the province, and further by the introduction of grave measures that inflicted fear, suffering and prolonged trauma on Catholic residents in Northern Ireland. In chapter 1 I have sought to bring light to a number of factors, which I consider decisive for the production of spaces of trauma for Catholic citizens. I emphasized that the discrimination of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland within a socio-economic frame that includes the labour market, housing and education has caused what Kleinman, Lock and Das (1997) have identified as widespread Social Suffering. Not only has discrimination in these sectors caused suffering and pain from economic shortcomings, it has also promoted and forced the production of geographical spaces of trauma. It has segregated people in urban areas of Northern Ireland, and thus forced the creation of ghettos. Many areas throughout the province had become confessionally homogeneous in residency. In addition to these socio-economic factors, the state has imposed fear and suffering through permanent surveillance and the penetration of private space. In collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries, the Police and Secret Services the state has terrorized Catholics and has manufactured spaces of death. Chapter 2 has given individual accounts of such spaces. Here I have given a voice to those who have been marginalized for the longest time. With the help of Judith Lewis Herman’s outlines on trauma I have sought to outline how traumatic experience manifests itself in people’s everyday lifes. I have tried to convey the fear and pain that people go through. The outlines have shown 143

that traumatic experience is seldom easily overcome, but is indeed a life changing experience that shatters people’s livelihoods to the core. Moreover the experience of trauma and subsequent healing does not happen in an even process, quite to the contrary it is characterized by ruptures, setbacks, turnovers and other manifold obstacles. Thus, the parameters of trauma are long-lasting and difficult and hence not bound to any logical or rational process. There is no definite solution to trauma, just as much there can not be a definite or capital solution for the Northern Irish conflict. Chapter 3 has outlined the collective dimension of trauma and changes caused by it in people’s social and cultural realities. I have sought to explain that the violation and the betrayal of basic trust is the first thing shattered, and indeed one of the most significant factors for the manifestation of a prolonged collective trauma. This part of my thesis has also presented mural paintings as an ultimate expression of collective trauma in the Northern Irish conflict. Here it have shown that the histories of Catholics and Protestants within this vital tradition are very different from each other. Whereas the Protestant mural tradition reaches back to the early 20th century, a Catholic tradition has been suppressed for the longest time. Only in the late 1970s Catholic mural painting came to the fore, and immediately became the strongest visual marker in Catholic/Nationalist areas in mostly urban, but also rural areas of Northern Ireland. With the photographic work presented in this chapter I have also presented more recent markers of trauma and suffering, which still define the face of streets in such places as Belfast and Derry. My outlines on healing have sought to present the reader with a unified process of healing in and after the Northern Irish conflict. From more traditional approaches from anthropology, such as the telling of ghost stories and the concepts of healing and cleansing in Michael Taussig’s work in regard to Colombia, I have again outlined the psychological side to the thematic of healing. Here again Herman’s outlines in the frame of psychology have brought to the fore various correlations to the anthropological work on the overcoming of traumatic experience. I have shown that terms like recognition, truth and justice play a vital role in this context. Again, I have picked up the concept of basic trust, this time in regard to the work of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. These mother’s efforts represent an ultimate expression of the overcoming of traumatic experience, and within this, the achievement of recognition, truth and justice. A second part of my outlines on healing has strongly focused on reconciliation and healing work in Northern Ireland. Here I have presented the aims and goals of various NGO’s and have discussed the use and the possibilities for a Truth and Reconciliation commission for Northern 144

Ireland. Much of the work done in the urban context of Belfast by such local initiatives is carried out in Interface areas. I have argued that this work seeks to establish communication and understanding for each side of the other, and that it is able to transfer Interfaces from spaces of trauma to spaces of healing. With the presentation of my interview with Tom Hannon I have outlined the work of Cornerstone in the Interface area of the Springfield Road in West Belfast. Hannon has given a moving and detailed account on the everyday efforts of the Cornerstone Community. The presentation of the interview has also shown that a healing process does not happen on an unconditional basis. Much rather it is embedded in a constant process of “give and take”. It happens in the strangest of moments and in the oddest places. It is happening slowly, and quietly, nevertheless it is moving forward. My additional outline of the work of the Irish rock group U2 has tried to set the problematic of the conflict and the thematic of trauma and healing in a wider context, also in a more personal one. The presentations within this last part of my thesis have given account of the multi-layered work and expression of the Irish quartet on a local and on a global level. For many people in the world outside of Ireland, U2 represent the problematic around the Northern Irish conflict with the grain of salt that one might call human common sense. This said, I do not want to emphasize that this is the case. I believe that the band member’s opinions on the conflict and the wider problematic it is entangled in, has been brought to the fore in a public context only in the rarest of occasions.U2’s work encompasses many forms of artistic expression that relates to the suffering and the pain inflicted through violence and the lyrics and performances of the related songs have certainly shown the various facets of trauma and healing in NI, and beyond. What the two last chapters of my thesis have sought to emphasize mostly is the circumstance that the healing of prolonged suffering is possible after all. Surely such phenomena as trauma and healing cannot be traced accurately within the limited space of these pages. But a glimpse and a certain notion have been conveyed. The healing process that has established itself since the signing of paramilitary ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 has itself for the longest time been under siege. The discussion and debates that have taken place on the political level of things have again re-traumatized people, or inflicted trauma on those, who had so far been profiting from their position within the Northern Irish province. It can be clearly stated that Catholics, who have once represented a minority, have greatly profited from the Peace Process of the last decade. They have understood and used their potential to engage in a political participation and formulate their concerns 145

accurately. The Protestant community on the other hand has greatly suffered from the loss of their identity. It had held on to a Union with the British government and their loyalty to the English crown for the longest time, and in the process of the establishment of truth, justice and reconciliation lost much of its old identity. Whereas the Catholic/Nationalist community has been constantly challenged to re-invent itself and re-formulate their concerns over and over again, the Protestant/Unionist community has been living under the exclusive protection of an Orange Northern Irish state. Thus it was not forced to formulate its standpoint and its concerns. Not only has the Protestant community so far not been able to formulate a new agenda for themselves, they have also denied Catholics the recognition of their commitment to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. This circumstance becomes most obvious in the handling of paramilitary affairs on both sides. Whereas the IRA has put their armed struggle for a united Ireland to a plausible rest in July 2005, and has slowly but steadily decommissioned its weapons, Loyalist paramilitaries have not made any of such efforts to the time of writing. Neither have they been forced to do so by Protestant/Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland. This circumstance maybe causes the biggest problematic for the achievement of a lasting peace process. In early October 2006 the independent commission, which had monitored the IRA’s efforts of decommissioning and disbanding, attested the Republican movement a credible interest in a peaceful achievement of their concerns. At the time of writing yet another deadline for the reaching of a peace accord, and for the re-institution of a local parliament in Stormont is underway. By the end of November 2006 the parties involved have to decide wether they can work together for a peaceful future of the province. Be the outcome of these talks as it may, it will certainly not put the Peace Process that is manifesting in communities on a hold. As I have sought to argue within chapter 4 of this work: without the effort of local community programmes none of what has been achieved since 1994 would have been possible. Local programmes that promote communication and healing are most attentive to the needs and worries of each community, and thus have an important role within the wider political context. The reforms that have so far followed in the course of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement have given people a frame for their undertakings. The political level has promoted local community programmes and provided them with the necessary needs. The grassroots work that is happening on the local level though will monitor political efforts and will certainly be able to achieve the lasting peace that politics have been talking about since the implementation of ceasefires. What will be needed for the coming years in 146

Northern Ireland is what John Paul Lederach has called “the imperative of the moral imagination” (Lederach 2005). Only if both sides see a moral necessity to overcome the divides and trenches that have been built can a new Northern Irish society, full of heterogeneity and a diversity of voices, be achieved. I want to end with a paragraph from a letter Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairéad Maguire has written to her son Luke in June 1986. Even though these words have been composed 20 years ago, they still ring true for the future of Northern Ireland:
“When “human” life is held as so sacred that no one can kill, then justice will reign in people’s hearts and in all lands. Wars will be no more. Justice will mean that no man has too much, while some have nothing. Greed and selfishness will turn into feeding the hungry and removing all poverty. It is possible, Luke, to change to this kind of world. You just have to refuse to accept the old ways of “thinking” and “doing” things, and begin to “think” and “act” in a way more in tune with the magnificent goodness in man. All men know today that killing and starvation is wrong – it is just that not enough are prepared to change themselves and to work on making things different. God bless you and keep you my little Luke”. (Maguire, Peace People leaflet 1986)



U2 Song Lyrics

Tomorrow (U2 1982:6)

Won't you come back tomorrow Won't you come back tomorrow Won't you come back tomorrow Can I sleep tonight? Outside, somebody's outside Somebody's knocking at the door. There's a black car parked at the side of the road Don't go to the door Don't go to the door. I'm going out. I'm going outside mother. I'm going out there. Won't you be back tomorrow, Won't you be back tomorrow, Will you be back tomorrow? Can I sleep tonight? Who broke the window Who broke down the door? Who tore the curtain And who was it for? Who heals the wounds Who heals the scars? Open the door, open the door. Won't you come back tomorrow? Won't you be back tomorrow? Will you be back tomorrow?


Can I sleep tonight? 'Cause I want you I, I want you I really want you. I, I want, I, I Want you to be back tomorrow I want you to be back tomorrow. Will you be back tomorrow? Can I sleep tonight? I want you to be back tomorrow I want you to be back tomorrow. Will you be back tomorrow? Open up, open up, to the Lamb Of God To the love of He Who made the blind to see. He's coming back He's coming back O believe Him.

Stranger In A Strange Land (U2 1982:8)

Stranger, stranger in a strange land. He looked at me like I was the one who should run. We asked him to smile for a photograph Waited a while to see if we could make him laugh. The soldier asked for a cigarette His smiling face I can't forget. He looked at me across the street But that's a long way here. Oh, and I wish you were here. Oh, and I wish you were here. Stranger, stranger in a strange land. He looked at me like I was the one who should run. I watched as he watched us get back on the bus I watched the way it was The way it was when he was with us


And I really don't mind sleeping on the floor But I couldn't sleep after what I saw I wrote this letter to tell you the way I feel. Oh I wish you were here Oh I wish you were here To see what I could see To hear And I wish you were here.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2 1983:1)

I can't believe the news today I can't close my eyes and make it go away. How long, how long must we sing this song? How long, how long? 'Cos tonight We can be as one, tonight. Broken bottles under children's feet Bodies strewn across the dead-end street. But I won't heed the battle call It puts my back up, puts my back up against the wall. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Oh, let's go. And the battle's just begun There's many lost, but tell me who has won? The trenches dug within our hearts And mothers, children, brothers, sisters Torn apart. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday. How long, how long must we sing this song? How long, how long? 'Cos tonight We can be as one, tonight. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Wipe the tears from your eyes Wipe your tears away. I'll wipe your tears away. I'll wipe your tears away. I'll wipe your bloodshot eyes. Sunday, bloody Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday. And it's true we are immune


When fact is fiction and TV reality. And today the millions cry We eat and drink while tomorrow they die. The real battle just begun To claim the victory Jesus won On... Sunday, bloody Sunday Sunday, bloody Sunday..

Mother Of The Disappeared (U2 1987:11)

Midnight, our sons and daughters Were cut down and taken from us. Hear their heartbeat We hear their heartbeat. In the wind we hear their laughter In the rain we see their tears. Hear their heartbeat, we hear their heartbeat. Night hangs like a prisoner Stretched over black and blue. Hear their heartbeats We hear their heartbeats. In the trees our sons stand naked Through the walls our daughter cry See their tears in the rainfall.

Staring At The Sun (U2 1997:5)

Summer stretching on the grass Summer dresses pass In the shade of a willow tree Creeps a-crawling over me Over me and over you Stuck together with God's glue Itís gonna get stickier too. Itís been a long hot summer Let's get under cover Don't try too hard to think Don't think at all.


I'm not the only one Staring at the sun Afraid of what you'd find If you take a look inside. Not just deaf and dumb Iím staring at the sun Not the only one Who's happy to go blind. There's an insect in your ear If you scratch it won't disappear. It's gonna itch and burn and sting Do you wanna see what the scratching brings! Waves that leave me out of reach Breaking on your back like a beach. Will we ever live in peace? 'Cause those that can't do often have to And those that can't do often have to preach To the ones staring at the sun Afraid of what you'll find if you took a look inside. Not just deaf and dumb, staring at the sun I'm not the only one who'd rather go blind. Intransigence in all around Military's still in town Armour plated suits and ties Daddy just won't say goodbye Referee won't blow the whistle. God is good but will he listen? I'm nearly great but there's something missing. I left it in the duty free, Oh, though you never really belonged to me. You're not the only one staring at the sun Afraid of what you'd find if you stepped back inside. I'm not sucking my thumb, staring at the sun Not the only one who's happy to go blind.

Please (U2 1997:11)

So you never knew love Until you crossed the line of grace. And you never felt wanted Till you'd someone slap your face. So you never felt alive Until you'd almost wasted away. You had to win, you couldn't just pass


The smartest ass at the top of the class Your flying colours, your family tree And all your lessons in history. Please, please, please Get up off your knees. Please, please, please, please, oh yeah. And you never knew how low you'd stoop To make that call And you never knew what was on the ground Till they made you crawl. So you never knew that the heaven You keep you stole. Your Catholic blues, your convent shoes, Your stick-on tattoos now they're making the news Your holy war, your northern star Your sermon on the mount from the boot of your car.

Please, please, please Get up off your knees. Please, please, please Leave me out of this, please. So love is hard And love is tough But love is not What you're thinking of. September, streets capsizing Spilling over down the drains Shard of glass, splinters like rain But you could only feel your own pain. October, talk getting nowhere. November, December; remember We just started again. Please, please, please Get up off your knees, yeah. Please, please, please, please, ah. So love is big Is bigger than us. But love is not What you're thinking of. It's what lovers deal It's what lovers steal You know I've found it Hard to receive 'Cause you, my love I could never believe.


North And South Of The River (U2 1997/3:2. lyrics by Christy Moore) I want to reach out over the lough And feel your hand across the water Walk with you along an unapproved road Not looking over my shoulder I want to see, and I want to hear To understand your fears But we're north & south of the river I've been doing it wrong all of my life This holy town has turned me over A young man running from what he didn't understand But the wind from the lough just got colder and colder There was a badness that had it's way Love was not lost, love will have it's day North & south of the river North & south of the river Can we stop playing these old tattoos ? Darling, I don't have the answer I want to meet you Where you are I don't need you to surrender There's no feeling Thats so alone As when the one you're hurting is your own North & south of the river North & south of the river North & south of the river Some high ground is not worth taking Some connections are not worth making There's an old church bell no longer ringing Some old songs are not worth bringing North (Some high ground is not worth taking) North & south of the river

Peace On Earth (U2 2001:8)

Heaven on Earth

We need it now I'm sick of all of this Hanging around Sick of sorrow Sick of pain Sick of hearing again and again That there's gonna be Peace on Earth Where I grew up


There weren't many trees Where there was we'd tear them down And use them on our enemies They say that what you mock Will surely overtake you And you become a monster So the monster will not break you It's already gone too far Who said that if you go in hard You won't get hurt Jesus could you take the time To throw a drowning man a line Peace on Earth Tell the ones who hear no sound Whose sons are living in the ground Peace on Earth No whos or whys No-one cries like a mother cries For peace on Earth She never got to say goodbye To see the colour in his eyes Now he's in the dirt Peace on Earth They're reading names out over the radio All the folks the rest of us won't get to know Sean and Julia, Gareth, Ann and Breda Their lives are bigger, than any big idea Jesus can you take the time To throw a drowning man a line Peace on Earth To tell the ones who hear no sound Whose sons are living in the ground Peace on Earth Jesus this song you wrote The words are sticking in my throat Peace on Earth Hear it every Christmas time But hope and history won't rhyme So what's it worth? This peace on Earth Peace on Earth Peace on Earth Peace on Earth



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All photography within this work copyright by the author, except where noted.


Bernhard Botz, geboren am 02. November 1977 in Wien Bildungsweg: 1984-88 Volksschule Petrusgasse, Wien 3 1988-96 Realgymnasium an der Höheren Internatsschule des Bundes (HIB) Wien 3 mit Schwerpunkt auf bildnerischer Erziehung. 1996/97 Präsendienst im österr. Bundesheer in Wien. seit 1997 Studium der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie an der Universität Wien. Fremdsprachen: Englisch (fliessend, akzentfrei), Französisch (teilweise). andere Betätigungsfelder: 2003-2005 Feldforschung in Nordirland. Social Anthropologists (EASA) in Wien. Im selben Monat Teilnehmer an der Mediterranean Ethnological Summer School (MESS) in Piran, Slowenien. seit November 2004 im Moving Anthropology Student (Social) Network MASN tätig. Mitbegründer der Organisation und wissenschaftliche Leitung der 1. MASN Konferenz in Ottenstein, Niederösterreich im November 2005. Vorbereitung einer Publikation zum MASN Workshop „Fieldwork in politically hot contexts“ Seit 1997 aktiv als Musiker tätig. 2000-2004 Songwriter und Gitarrist der Band ZUE, seit April 2004 in der selben Funktion in der Band DIE NEUE VERSION aktiv.

September 2004 organisatorische Mitarbeit bei der 8. Konferenz der European Association of

Kontakt: A-1040 Wien, Rienößlgasse 16/1/15 e-mail:


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