‘What’s the news? Nothing but bonfires’: The Eleventh Night Bonfire: tradition and change

  • Karen Lynn Kettner

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis explores the annual commemorative event known as the Eleventh of July bonfires In Northern Ireland. The Eleventh of July bonfire is aligned with the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ and these events demonstrate the socio-political identity of the Protestant ‘imagined community.’ It explores the historical and contemporary context of the event as it unfolds within Loyalist working-class estates. The thesis draws together concepts of ritual, symbol, invented tradition and explores how these concepts intersect in space. Through an anthropological lens, I explore the Eleventh of July bonfires are examined as a ritualized cultural performance in the context of its nominal historical narrative and against the backdrop of Northern Ireland’s tumultuous history and within its current policy landscape.

    Utilizing various social science research methods, both ethnographic and archival, it analyzes how the Eleventh of July bonfire celebration has become politicized. It is argued that the Eleventh of July bonfires are integral part of the political socialization of the young and to the cultural reproduction and maintenance of loyalist socio-political identity. In addition, the nature of relations within and between Loyalist communities is divulged within localised political narratives.
    Date of AwardJul 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorJohn Knight (Supervisor) & Hastings Donnan (Supervisor)

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