Genealogies of Partition: History, History-Writing and 'The Troubles' in Ireland

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    Contemporary political disputes have a long history of expression and contestation through the genre of history-writing in Ireland. The role of history writing and political science writing during the nearly 40 years of the so-called 'Troubles' has been no exception to this. Battles between competing versions of what the conflict 'is about', mediated through academic and popular texts have themselves in turn become constitutive of it. This builds upon centuries of the representation of the complicated politics of this island as 'an issue' in British domestic politics - first 'the Catholic question', then 'the Irish question'. The location of political power outside the island for centuries has created successive battles for the representation of sectional interests in a metropolitan centre. The skills of propaganda, history writing, newspaper writing have consequently been deployed at a remarkable level of skill and intensity. In the recent period one of the consequences of this has been the removal from the debate of the actuality of partition; this builds upon a particular historical representation of partition as an historical inevitability. To seek to restore partition to the debate is not to call for its undoing but to recognise that seeking to circumvent debates about its origins in the key period of democratisation in Irish politics (1880-1920) has been counter-productive. This essay examines the genealogies of partition in Irish and international contexts in the light of these battles for representation, and aims to return a lost dimension to the debate about the so-called 'Troubles'in Ireland. The genealogy of partition is the issue that has been marginalised in academic study and this has affected both policy and politics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)619-634
    Number of pages16
    JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
    Volume9 (4)
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006

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