Embedding memory into the landscape – a place for stolpersteine in Northern Ireland?

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In Germany initally, and now across those parts of Europe that had been under Nazi control, small brass plaques – stolpersteine – have been cemented in pavements by the artist Gunter Demnig. Each stolperstein gives brief details about a person who lived in the building outside which it has been installed, the date on which they were forcibly evicted and, finally, it records their fate in the Holocaust. Installed in ‘ordinary places’ (Cook and van Reimsdijk, 2014), they are installations which visitors come across, rather than visit. They act as powerful quotidian counter-memorials, the antithesis of state-sponsored memorials to those who have died in conflicts. While not without their critics, most local people seem to have embraced this form of remembrance. Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ had a much smaller death toll than the Holocaust, but counter-memorials have already been erected for some of the almost 3700 dead, with more being established each year. Far from contributing to understanding or reconciliation, the design and placement of some of these counter-memorials, especially in interface areas, may exacerbate division. In this paper we examine the potential to transpose the stolpersteine concept for those who died in the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the challenges and benefits that such a venture might generate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDealing with the Legacy of Conflict in Northern Ireland through Engagement and Dialogue
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 Nov 2020


  • Northern Ireland
  • Memorialisation
  • conflict
  • Stolpersteine


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