Artefacts as Agents for Change: Commemoration and Exchange via Material Culture

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As Northern Ireland seeks ways to deal with the memory of the conflict, artefacts associated with the period that can be ascribed with an aura of historical authenticity are placed on public display as yet another means to employ the past. These artefacts become another element of the media machine of commemorative projects, touchstones to the past, and agents in contemporary political activities. This paper considers the methods employed by In Their Footsteps, an artefact-based initiative organised by groups and families seeking justice for conflict related losses. It takes the format of a memorial exhibition with objects, text and imagery intended to garner support for the political ambitions of their justice campaign. By critically investigating the methods employed by this initiative, insights are given to the use, meaning, symbolism and contribution of artefact display to the social processes of commemoration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-100
Number of pages15
JournalIrish Political Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Feb 2016


  • material culture
  • museums
  • exhibition
  • memory
  • symbols of commemoration


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