A Troubled Sleep: Risk and Resilience in Contemporary Northern Ireland

ISBN : 9780190095574

James Waller
304 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
May 2021
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In contemporary Northern Ireland, more than two decades after the peace agreement that ended the thirty-year sectarian violence known as "the Troubles" the risk of a return to violent conflict is not only present but growing. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, comparative research, and over 110 hours of face-to-face interviews with a diverse range of political, academic, civil society, and community actors across Northern Ireland, A Troubled Sleep revisits one of the world's most deeply divided societies to analyze Northern Ireland's current vulnerabilities, and points of resilience, as an allegedly "post-conflict" society. By examining the Northern Ireland example, Waller presents deep insight into what happens when identity politics prevail over democracy, when a paralysis in governance leads to a political vacuum for extremist voices to exploit, when de facto social segregation becomes normalized, when acclimatization to violence becomes a generational legacy, and when questions of who we are become secondary to who we are not.


Introduction: A Brutal Duality
Part I - Wounded Identities
Chapter 1: You're One or the Other: Social Identities in Deeply Divided Societies
Chapter 2: Two Eyes on the Past: Northern Ireland's Wounded History
Part II - Risk and Resilience in Contemporary Northern Ireland
Understanding Risk and Resilience
Chapter 3: Was There Ever A Before? The Tyranny of Memory
Chapter 4: With Deep Regret and Reluctance: Governance in a Deeply Divided Society
Chapter 5: The Walls Entered Into Our Souls: Social Fragmentation in Everyday Life
Part III - A Troubled Sleep
Chapter 6: A Farewell to Peace?: Escalating Risk and Fading Resilience
Conclusion: I Hope It Wasn't All a Waste: Northern Ireland At Its Centenary

About the author: 

James Waller is Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and chair of that same department, at Keene State College (NH-US). He is the author of five books, most notably Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing and Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide. Waller has held numerous visiting professorships, most recently as an honorary visiting research professor in the George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Justice and Security at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland (2017), as well as participating in policymaking and diplomatic efforts to prevent and respond to genocide and violent conflict. In 2017, he was the inaugural recipient of the Engaged Scholarship Prize from the International Association of Genocide Scholars in recognition of his exemplary engagement in advancing genocide awareness and prevention.

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