Reflecting upon youth experience during the Troubles: the trans-generational transmission of memory in post-conflict Belfast
University of Brighton College of Arts and Humanities
Supervisor: Professor Graham Dawson
The proposed doctoral project seeks to investigate the ways in which those who experienced childhood and adolescence during the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ 1969-1994, have subsequently reflected upon and made sense of their own experiences of living within its disrupted environment. This period of conflict had a significant impact upon the formative experiences of children and young people, and research will explore how these experiences affected the lives of individuals in the historical fashion, whilst engaging directly with their psychic, cultural and political legacies in the ‘post-conflict’ era. Concentrating on Belfast as a site of acute spatial and social disruption, the project will specifically make use of oral history interviews to examine how conflict-related experiences of the ‘younger Troubles generations’ continue to intrude upon the lives of individuals, families and communities in the present. An inter-disciplinary framework will be employed, incorporating a range of methodologies from and life-history research, cultural memory studies, trauma theory and psycho-social studies, to analyse what these personal narratives reveal about cultural attitudes towards the violent past amongst the younger Troubles generations, and to consider how these attitudes are impacting upon current tendencies towards division or reconciliation in post-conflict Northern Ireland. Since it is recognised that those who experiences childhood and adolescence during the conflict are now likely to be central agents of conflict memory in the present-day era as the first generations to parent those born into the circumstances of peace, particular attention will be paid to the ways in which these individuals are engaging in the process of the trans-generational transmission of conflict memory as community activists, parents and leaders in the present.