Moving through Time and Space: Performing Bodies in Derry, Northern Ireland
Conway, Brian (2007) Moving through Time and Space: Performing Bodies in Derry, Northern Ireland. Journal of Historical Sociology, 20 (2).
IN recent years, scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds such as anthropology, sociology, psychology and history have paid increasing attention to collective memory in the underwriting and construction of group idenity. Within the Discipline of Sociology, most studies of memory work have focused on various sites of inscribed, written-down memory such as museums, memorials, films, websites, song, books, magazines and so forth. Less attention has been given to non-inscribed ways of bringing the past into the present such as marches, processions and parades. Of those studies that do examine embodies forms of remembrance and the mnemonic capacities of the body, Paul Connerton's text How Societies Remember has been particularly influential as a theorectical point of departure. This article employs, and extends, Connerton's framework to help make sense of the annual re-enactment of the Bloody Sunday march, a movement through space that also entails a movement through time. After providing a brief theoretical reference point for the paper, through the work of Connerton, I then go on to delineate a three-stage periodization of the march focusing on important shifts and changes between each stage as well as accumulations across them. In the section that follows this I return to the theoretical claims introduced earlier and seek to call attention to underanalyzed aspects of Connerton's thoerization of bodily memory pointed to by the empirical data, specially the extent to which embodied remembrance undergoes change and modification over time and how performative ritual in the context of an unsettled society such as Northern Ireland is politically charged and responsive to wider socio-historical shifts and currents.
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