A Very Funny Place: Imagining Identity and Conflict in Northern Ireland’s Museum Scene
In this thesis the idea of a new museum for the Troubles in Northern Ireland is explored through i) conversations with museum personnel and those otherwise affiliated to museums, and ii) observations of museums displaying modern violence; their interiors; collections; and surroundings. In the main, museums follow their respective political perspectives when explaining the violent conflict that plagued Northern Ireland in the 1960s-1990s. Irish nationalist and republican venues impose their versions of history, like a temple would a religion. Ulster British loyalist museums behave likewise. Some more ‘neutral’ exhibitions incorporate both Irish and Ulster British elements. However, in the end, for more inclusive exhibitions to emerge, dominating nationalistic stories have to be countered by inviting visitors to become participants. This increasingly individualist approach allows an array of new perspectives to emerge with which to break the Irish-British dichotomy. If nations should remain part of the equation, it is best to include a greater internationalist perspective on war and social upheaval. This internationalism would help diminish the idea of British and Irish exceptionalism, found a lot respectively in terms of British glorification of the world wars, and the Irish borrowing the victimhood images thereof.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen