Meta-Conflicts and The Publicness of Memorialisation: Do Memorials with Low Publicness Replicate or Challenge Communal Divisions in NI?

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Publicness has been a prominent feature of Northern Ireland/North of Ireland (NI)’s transitional period. The once unimaginable sight of Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley sharing a laugh as they entered a power-sharing government as well as David Cameron’s public apology to the Bloody Sunday families are not only momentous occasions in NI’s transition, but also highly public ones. Other significant developments have occurred with less publicity, such as the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains using ‘quiet’ transitional justice to enhance its effectiveness. A combination of high and low publicness has also been used to memorialise the conflict. Memorials with relatively low publicness, such as quilts of remembrance and temporary exhibitions, are used in conjunction with more public ones, such as monuments and murals. Without a consensus on how to “deal with the past”, memory remains an extremely contentious and relevant issue in NI. A ‘meta-conflict’ has thus manifested, with the failure to implement adequate legacy mechanisms furthering the prevalence of memory politics in the region. Additionally, memorialisation has primarily been performed by grassroots memory-makers due to a lack of official, State commemoration. Consequently, highly visible memorials tend to replicate rather than challenge communal divisions. But has the same fate befallen sites of memory with relatively low publicness? This paper wishes to examine this question, assessing if low publicness has allowed certain memory-makers to navigate NI’s meta-conflict and enable the public remembrance of actors who are missing from their more public counterparts.
Period5 Apr 2023
Event titleSLSA Annual Conference 2023
Event typeConference
LocationUnited KingdomShow on map


  • Memory
  • Meta-Conflict
  • Commemoration
  • Memorialisation
  • Transitional Justice
  • Northern Ireland