Rethinking Difficult Pasts: Bloody Sunday (1972) as a Case Study
Conway, Brian (2009) Rethinking Difficult Pasts: Bloody Sunday (1972) as a Case Study. Cultural Sociology, 3 (3). pp. 397-413. ISSN 1749-9755
The sociological literature on collective memory puts forward fragmented and multivocal commemorations as two dominant ways of responding to difficult pasts. This article argues that there is room for improvement in these models by specifying the conditions under which a controversial past can be remembered initially in a fragmented way and, with greater temporal distance from the original event, can evolve into a more consensual form of commemoration in which the past is seized upon as a resource to advance the politics of reconciliation between two opposing identity groups in an unsettled society. An evolving political climate, active memory choreography, and the usability of the past in the present all help account for this. The empirical evidence to support this theoretical claim comes from a long-range, historical study of the case of Bloody Sunday (1972).
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