Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Anthropology

First Advisor

Kathleen D. Hall

Second Advisor

Richard M. Leventhal

Abstract

Fifteen years after the Good Friday Agreement ended thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland, people still grapple with peace process implementation. Many within the Catholic minority continue their hopes for a united Ireland, free from British hegemony, refusing to accept they are citizens of the United Kingdom. In the border town of Strabane, County Tyrone, the remembered past plays a dynamic role in how people live in the present, envision their future, and pass it on to younger generations. During the Troubles, members of this republican community were either volunteers in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) or active supporters in what they considered a struggle for civil rights and a fight against British occupation. The ambush and deaths of three local lads by Crown Forces in 1985 was a pivotal event that inspired a greater commitment to opposing British rule, particularly through the expression and performance of their Irish and republican identity, using tangible and intangible symbols. These forms of cultural identity remain important as residents negotiate their place in post-conflict Northern Ireland. Flags, murals, and plaques identify ethno-national territory, serving as boundary markers and sites of memory for local residents. A memorial band established right after the shooting continues to honor the "local lads" as members march and perform republican music embedded with the narratives of republican hero/martyrs who died for Irish freedom. With music, drumming, and parading they embody memories, reimagine community, contest British citizenship, and create their own heritage of the Troubles. In a pub setting, this same music invites audience participation in singing the stories, extending the memorial and commemorative aspect to everyday events. As they perform their Irish identity and memorialize the past, this community has transitioned from being marginalized and at odds with local government, to participating on their own terms, incorporating republican celebrations and heritage into programs within the broader Strabane community, and taking an active part in planning for the future.

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