Curating contested narratives: Considering the challenges of building an ‘official’ oral history archive in Northern Ireland

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Proposals for the establishment of an oral history archive of conflict-related testimonies have been in the ether in Northern Ireland for decades. Alongside other information retrieval and historical investigation mechanisms, the 2014 Stormont House Agreement (SHA), included the provision for an official Oral History Archive, which would act as a central repository for individuals to ‘share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles’. Sketchy in terms of its operational detail, it proposed that: ‘As well as collecting new material, this archive will attempt to draw together and work with existing oral history projects’ (SHA, 2014: 5).
Drawing on the author’s experience of auditing the extent and reach of community-based oral history projects, and as research lead for the ‘Accounts of the Conflict’ digital archive at Ulster University, established in 2014, this paper interrogates the aspirations for a central, state-facilitated archive which seeks to both archive existing testimonies and to gather new oral histories. It highlights the challenges which this dual mandate poses, arguing that these are not only practical in nature, but also political, ethical and emotional.
This paper seeks to examine the embedded assumptions as to the purpose and utility of establishing such an archive and to explore whether such new archives should - be default - be digital in form and publicly accessible, and what practical and ethical issues this raises not only for the archivist but for those wishing to utilize the archive for wider societal and peace-enhancing impacts.

Conference

ConferenceViolence, Space and the Archives
CountryIreland
CityGalway
Period23/05/1924/05/19

Fingerprint

Northern Ireland
Curating
Oral History
Testimony
Ethical Issues
Ulster
Repository
Emotion
Ethers
Aspiration
Digital Archive
Peace
Information Retrieval
Archivists

Keywords

  • archives
  • violence
  • space
  • Northern Ireland
  • oral history
  • policy
  • conflict

Cite this

@conference{905cd7aa45204c448acf5df5593e2aae,
title = "Curating contested narratives: Considering the challenges of building an ‘official’ oral history archive in Northern Ireland",
abstract = "Proposals for the establishment of an oral history archive of conflict-related testimonies have been in the ether in Northern Ireland for decades. Alongside other information retrieval and historical investigation mechanisms, the 2014 Stormont House Agreement (SHA), included the provision for an official Oral History Archive, which would act as a central repository for individuals to ‘share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles’. Sketchy in terms of its operational detail, it proposed that: ‘As well as collecting new material, this archive will attempt to draw together and work with existing oral history projects’ (SHA, 2014: 5). Drawing on the author’s experience of auditing the extent and reach of community-based oral history projects, and as research lead for the ‘Accounts of the Conflict’ digital archive at Ulster University, established in 2014, this paper interrogates the aspirations for a central, state-facilitated archive which seeks to both archive existing testimonies and to gather new oral histories. It highlights the challenges which this dual mandate poses, arguing that these are not only practical in nature, but also political, ethical and emotional. This paper seeks to examine the embedded assumptions as to the purpose and utility of establishing such an archive and to explore whether such new archives should - be default - be digital in form and publicly accessible, and what practical and ethical issues this raises not only for the archivist but for those wishing to utilize the archive for wider societal and peace-enhancing impacts.",
keywords = "archives, violence, space, Northern Ireland, oral history, policy, conflict",
author = "Grainne Kelly",
year = "2019",
month = "5",
day = "23",
language = "English",
note = "Violence, Space and the Archives ; Conference date: 23-05-2019 Through 24-05-2019",

}

Kelly, G 2019, 'Curating contested narratives: Considering the challenges of building an ‘official’ oral history archive in Northern Ireland' Paper presented at Violence, Space and the Archives, Galway, Ireland, 23/05/19 - 24/05/19, .

Curating contested narratives: Considering the challenges of building an ‘official’ oral history archive in Northern Ireland. / Kelly, Grainne.

2019. Paper presented at Violence, Space and the Archives, Galway, Ireland.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

TY - CONF

T1 - Curating contested narratives: Considering the challenges of building an ‘official’ oral history archive in Northern Ireland

AU - Kelly, Grainne

PY - 2019/5/23

Y1 - 2019/5/23

N2 - Proposals for the establishment of an oral history archive of conflict-related testimonies have been in the ether in Northern Ireland for decades. Alongside other information retrieval and historical investigation mechanisms, the 2014 Stormont House Agreement (SHA), included the provision for an official Oral History Archive, which would act as a central repository for individuals to ‘share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles’. Sketchy in terms of its operational detail, it proposed that: ‘As well as collecting new material, this archive will attempt to draw together and work with existing oral history projects’ (SHA, 2014: 5). Drawing on the author’s experience of auditing the extent and reach of community-based oral history projects, and as research lead for the ‘Accounts of the Conflict’ digital archive at Ulster University, established in 2014, this paper interrogates the aspirations for a central, state-facilitated archive which seeks to both archive existing testimonies and to gather new oral histories. It highlights the challenges which this dual mandate poses, arguing that these are not only practical in nature, but also political, ethical and emotional. This paper seeks to examine the embedded assumptions as to the purpose and utility of establishing such an archive and to explore whether such new archives should - be default - be digital in form and publicly accessible, and what practical and ethical issues this raises not only for the archivist but for those wishing to utilize the archive for wider societal and peace-enhancing impacts.

AB - Proposals for the establishment of an oral history archive of conflict-related testimonies have been in the ether in Northern Ireland for decades. Alongside other information retrieval and historical investigation mechanisms, the 2014 Stormont House Agreement (SHA), included the provision for an official Oral History Archive, which would act as a central repository for individuals to ‘share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles’. Sketchy in terms of its operational detail, it proposed that: ‘As well as collecting new material, this archive will attempt to draw together and work with existing oral history projects’ (SHA, 2014: 5). Drawing on the author’s experience of auditing the extent and reach of community-based oral history projects, and as research lead for the ‘Accounts of the Conflict’ digital archive at Ulster University, established in 2014, this paper interrogates the aspirations for a central, state-facilitated archive which seeks to both archive existing testimonies and to gather new oral histories. It highlights the challenges which this dual mandate poses, arguing that these are not only practical in nature, but also political, ethical and emotional. This paper seeks to examine the embedded assumptions as to the purpose and utility of establishing such an archive and to explore whether such new archives should - be default - be digital in form and publicly accessible, and what practical and ethical issues this raises not only for the archivist but for those wishing to utilize the archive for wider societal and peace-enhancing impacts.

KW - archives

KW - violence

KW - space

KW - Northern Ireland

KW - oral history

KW - policy

KW - conflict

UR - https://ghussey3.wixsite.com/violencespacearchive

M3 - Paper

ER -