Fanning the Sparks of Hope from History


Northern Ireland is one of those few places on earth that are known the world over for all the wrong reasons. Consequently much social scientific research has been done to account for its problems. This work, involving political, historical, cultural, sociological and psychological sciences, often seems to conclude that it is some external, residual forces in Northern Ireland that have recurrently given rise to its communal strife (see, for example, Boyle and Hadden 1985; Porter 1998). Thus, an image of fixity is presented. So, for example, the most frequently proffered kinds of explanation are ‘atavism’ and ‘tribalism’, as McGarry and O’Leary (1995) call them. That is, the atavist discourse, on the one side, attributes Northern Ireland’s troubles to its ancestral conditions, as opposed to (post)modern ones; the tribalist discourse, on the other side, to its insular myths, as different from broad and diverse perspectives.


National Identity Collective Identity Moral Rationality Practical Study Historical Discourse 
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© Shi-xu 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shi-xu
    • 1
  1. 1.Zhejiang UniversityChina

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