Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Good Friday Agreement in Relation to Northern Ireland and World Opinion
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Rusciano draws upon Benedict Anderson’s notion of the “imagined community” that defines a nation to examine whether such a unified community can emerge in Northern Ireland. He argues that this transition is most probable among younger cohorts who are less likely to declare a religious affiliation, more likely to declare an identity as Northern Irish, and more likely to have no link to an existing political party when compared with older cohorts. Rusciano compares the barriers to community with those of Germany after World War II and after reunification. In both cases, Germany struggled to find a “masterable past” to help define a common identity and transform their architectural designs to fit this new identity. Rusciano argues that Northern Ireland has similar problems. The six counties also need to define a “masterable past” that absorbs the Troubles and its aftermath to define a new identity. They also need to transform the architectural design of the “peace lines” to fit this new identity. One path might be to declare themselves citizens of a Northern Irish “imagined community”—a community that is British and Irish, yet neither alone, in history nor tradition. The special experience of the Troubles and the peace agreement could form the basis for this new identity, which world opinion has already ratified in its vision of Fremdbild for Northern Ireland. The next step would be to construct the Selbstbild that makes the negotiation of identity complete.