Narrative-Making and Recording Trauma: Reflections from Northern Ireland

  • Katy Radford


The act of narrative-making after ethno-national conflict and war can be considered a collective process with personal and political ends including that of reconciliation. Its efficacy is as dependant on the commissioner and receiver of the narrative as it is on its creator or contributor. Witness-bearing through visual, verbal and other dramatic renditions of individuals’ grief, suffering and abuse can be reflected on as a positive example of resilience-building and as a catalyst for change, recovery and transformation. It also provides opportunities for voyeurism and the commodification and legitimisation of violence.


  1. An Crann/The Tree, Bear in Mind: Stories of the Troubles, (Belfast: Lagan Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  2. Andrews, Molly, Shaping History: Narratives of political change, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  3. Andrews, Molly, “Beyond Narrative: The Shape of Traumatic Testimony” p. 164 in Hyvärinen, Matti, Hydén, Lars Christa, Saarenheimo, Marja, and Tambooukou, Maria eds. Beyond narrative coherence, (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010).Google Scholar
  4. Arts Council of Northern Ireland Troubles Archive n.d. [] (sourced 10 October 2016).
  5. Bar-Tal, Daniel, Chernvak-Hai, Schori, Noa and Gundar, Ayelet, “A sense of self-perceived collective victimnood in intractable conflicts” International Review of the Red Cross, Vol: 92, Issue 874 (War Victims), 2009, pp 229–258.Google Scholar
  6. BBC, Legacy: A Collection of Personal Testimonies from People Affected by the Troubles in Northern Ireland. CD Boxset. (Belfast: BBC Northern Ireland, 2008).Google Scholar
  7. Bock, Zanni and Mpolweni-Zantsi, Nosisi, “Translation and the media: translation and interpretation” in Charles Villao-Vicencio and Fani Du Toit, eds. Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Ten years on, (Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 2006).Google Scholar
  8. Edkins, Jenny, Trauma and the memory of politics, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  9. Field, Sean, “Beyond ‘healing’: Trauma, oral history and regeneration”, Oral History 34.1 :31.Google Scholar
  10. Fromm, M. Gerard ed., Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations. (London: Karnac, 2012).Google Scholar
  11. Graham, Margaret and Orr Jean, Nurses’ Voices from the Northern Ireland Troubles. (Royal College of Nursing, 2013).Google Scholar
  12. Hamber, Brandon and Kelly, Gráinne, Practice, Power and Inertia: Personal Narrative, Archives and Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland, Journal of Human Rights Practice 8 (1), 2016. pp. 1–5.Google Scholar
  13. Hartman, Geoffrey ed., Holocaust remembrance: the shapes of Memory, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994).Google Scholar
  14. Jellin, Elizabeth, State Repression and the Labours of Memory, (Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  15. Kelly, Gráinne, Storytelling Audit: An audit of personal story, narrative and testimony initiatives related to the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. (Belfast: Healing Through Remembering, 2005a).Google Scholar
  16. Kelly, Gráinne, Storytelling as the Vehicle? Conference Report, (Healing Through Remembering Belfast, 2005b).Google Scholar
  17. McKay, Susan, Bear in Mind These Dead. (London: Faber and Faber, 2009).Google Scholar
  18. Misztal, Barbara, A., Theories of Social Remembering. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003).Google Scholar
  19. Nealon, Jeffrey, Alterity Politics: Ethics and Performative Subjectivity, (Durham North Caroline: Duke Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  20. Nolan, Paul, Bryan, Dominic, Dwyer, Clare, Hayward, Katy, Radford, Katy, Shirlow, Peter, The Flag Dispute: Anatomy of a Protest. (Queen’s University Belfast, 2014).Google Scholar
  21. Northern Ireland Office, Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement), Bill Summary of Measures, September 2015, Northern Ireland Office, sourced 01/10/2016, [].
  22. Olick, Jeffrey K., Vinitzky-Seroussi, Vered., & Levy, Daniel eds., The Collective Memory Reader, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).Google Scholar
  23. Radford, Katy and Templer, Sara, Hearing the Voices: Perspective from within the Victim/Survivor Sector, (Belfast: Community Relations Council, 2008).Google Scholar
  24. Radford, Katy, “Grey Radio: Interviews, agency and advocacy”, Irish Journal of Anthropology Volume 14(1), 2012, pp. 42–45.Google Scholar
  25. Radford, Katy, Extra-Mural Activities and Trauma Tourism: Public and Community Sector re-imaging of street art in Belfast in Skinner, Jonathan and Jolliffe, Lee eds., Visiting Murals, Heritage, Politics and Identity. (London: Routledge, 2017).Google Scholar
  26. Rieff, David, Against Remembrance, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2011. p. 68).Google Scholar
  27. Smyth Marie, Fay Marie-Therese eds., Personal Accounts from Northern Ireland’s Troubles: Public Conflict, Private Loss, (London: Pluto Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  28. The Belfast Agreement, Northern Ireland Office (April 1998).Google Scholar
  29. The Evaluation of Storytelling as a Peace-building Methodology: Experiential Learning Paper No. 5 (January 2011) Irish Peace Centres.Google Scholar
  30. Zerubavel, Yael, Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Conflict ResearchBelfastUK

Personalised recommendations