‘It’s only history’: Belfast in Rosemary Jenkinson’s Short Fiction
This chapter analyses the ways in which the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement impacts upon conceptions of Belfast, history, and identity in Rosemary Jenkinson short story collections Contemporary Problems Nos. 53 & 54 (2004) and Aphrodite’s Kiss and Other Stories (2015). Jenkinson is an acclaimed playwright, but she has been writing stories for much longer and her short fiction remains underexplored. She problematises notions of contemporary Belfast as a ‘post-conflict’ space by exposing entrenched socio-political tensions and considering how these inflect exchanges between locals and tourists, as well as with the city itself. Her portrayal of the contemporary city also functions as a commentary on the commercialisation of Belfast and its history. The economic subtext of the Agreement signals a break with the city’s ‘troubled’ past in order to align with a global capitalist future. Therefore, the ‘new’ Belfast is circumscribed by its own corporatised, ‘post-conflict’ image in a process which is paradoxically violent, for the progressivist discourse of the Agreement dismisses fraught identitarian narratives as anachronistic. In Jenkinson’s tales this disjuncture manifests as a crisis of narrative, and her characters remain adrift. She emphasises the complexities of Northern Irish identity in her Belfast stories, thereby reasserting the local in a culture that has become globally entangled.
KeywordsNorthern Ireland Urban Rosemary Jenkinson Post-conflict Good Friday Agreement Troubles Peace Process Surveillance Tourism
- Allen, Nicholas, and Aaron Kelly, eds. ‘Introduction.’ In The Cities of Belfast, 7–18. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003.Google Scholar
- Berger, John. ‘Uses of Photography.’ In Understanding a Photograph, ed. Geoff Dyer, 49–60. London: Penguin, 2013.Google Scholar
- Diageo. http://www.diageo.com/en-us/ourbusiness/aboutus/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed January 19, 2017.
- ———. ‘“Every Passer-by a Culprit?”: Archive Fever, Photography and the Peace in Belfast.’ Third Text, 19, no. 5 (2006): 567–580.Google Scholar
- ———. ‘“Let’s Get Killed”: Culture and Peace in Northern Ireland.’ In Irish Postmodernisms and Popular Culture, ed. Wanda Balzano et al., 171–183. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.Google Scholar
- ———. ‘Gagarin’s Point of View: Memory and Space in Recent Northern Irish Art.’ The Irish Review, 40, no. 41 (Winter, 2009): 104–113.Google Scholar
- Hadaway, Pauline. ‘Introduction.’ In Where Are the People? Contemporary Photographs of Belfast 2002–2010, ed. Pauline Hadaway, 7–9. Belfast: Belfast Exposed Photography, 2010.Google Scholar
- Hughes, Eamonn. ‘Introduction: Northern Ireland—Border Country.’ In Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland, 1960–1990, ed. Eamonn Hughes, 1–12. Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
- Jenkinson, Rosemary. Contemporary Problems Nos. 53 & 54. Belfast: Lagan Press, 2004.Google Scholar
- ———. Aphrodite’s Kiss and Further Stories. Belfast: Whittrick Press, 2015.Google Scholar
- ———. ‘Banter and Booze—You Can’t Write About Belfast Without Them.’ The Irish Times, June 24, 2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/rosemary-jenkinson-banter-and-booze-you-can-t-write-about-belfast-without-them-1.2698502. Accessed June 24, 2016.
- Jewesbury, Daniel. ‘Nothing Left.’ In Where Are the People? Contemporary Photographs of Belfast 2002–2010, ed. Pauline Hadaway, 38–45. Belfast: Belfast Exposed Photography, 2010.Google Scholar
- Joint Declaration on Peace: The Downing Street Declaration (December 15, 1993), para. 1. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/peace/docs/dsd151293.htm. Accessed January 24, 2017.
- Kelly, Liam. Thinking Long: Contemporary Art in the North of Ireland. Oysterhaven: Gandon Editions, 1996.Google Scholar
- Kelly, Aaron. ‘Walled Communities.’ In All Over Again, by Eoghan McTigue. Belfast: Belfast Exposed Photography, 2004.Google Scholar
- ———. ‘Introduction: The Troubles with the Peace Process: Contemporary Northern Irish Culture.’ The Irish Review, 40, no. 41 (Winter, 2009): 1–17.Google Scholar
- Kirkland, Richard. Literature and Culture in Northern Ireland Since 1965: Moments of Danger. London: Longman, 1996.Google Scholar
- O’Dowd, Liam. ‘Belfast Transitions.’ In Where Are the People?: Contemporary Photographs of Belfast 2002–2010, ed. Pauline, Hadaway, 22–37. Belfast: Belfast Exposed Photography, 2010.Google Scholar
- Sherratt-Bado, Dawn Miranda. ‘Storied Women.’ Dublin Review of Books, 86 (February 2017). http://www.drb.ie/essays/storied-women. Accessed February 1, 2017.
- Sherratt-Bado, Dawn Miranda, and Rosemary Jenkinson. ‘Rosemary Jenkinson Interview: “Belfast Dialect Is like Synge on Acid”.’ The Irish Times, October 3, 2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/rosemary-jenkinson-interview-belfast-dialect-is-like-synge-on-acid-1.2814719. Accessed October 3, 2016.
- The Agreement: Agreement Reached in the Multi-Party Negotiations (Good Friday Agreement), issued 10 April 1998, ‘Declaration of Support,’ Paragraph 2. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/peace/docs/agreement.htm. Accessed January 24, 2017.
- Visit Belfast. www.visitbelfast.com/. Accessed January 24, 2017.