Words behind bars: philosophy, literature and the experience of detention

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


At the side of the motorway, on the outskirts of Belfast, stand the ruins of Long Kesh Detention Centre, also known as the Maze, where hundreds of civilians were held without trial in the summer of 1971. Nationalist sympathisers were imprisoned in makeshift Nissen huts surrounded by razor-topped wire fencing that divided prisoners into compounds, known as “cages”. Some were released within 48 hours of their arrest, while others spent years incarcerated. The consequences of that summer have been far-reaching and continue to affect Northern Ireland today. Yet the policy and legacy of internment (i.e. detention without trial) in Northern Ireland is far from unique; there are few societies across the globe that have not been touched in some way by internment. Internment is the norm, rather than the exception and it continues to blight lives today. In fact, Northern Ireland continues to detain people in Larne House Short Term Holding Facility, where asylum seekers are held in a camp for “processing” by the border authorities. For the past decade, similar facilities across the UK have been used to detain hundreds of British subjects of Caribbean heritage, who were identified as illegal migrants as part of a Home Office drive to deport the Windrush generation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPained screams from camps: collected essays and an Italian-English edition of a war prisoner's diary
EditorsAisling Reid, Valentins Surace
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter Oldenbourg
ISBN (Electronic)9783111297149
ISBN (Print)9783111296203
Publication statusAccepted - 01 Jan 2024


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