Voice, Agency and Blame: Victimhood and the Imagined Community in Northern Ireland
Project Commenced: 01/08/2016
Project Completion Date: 31/10/2018
Dr. Cheryl Lawther
Other staff or partners
Prof. Kieran McEvoy
This project explores the intersection between victims and ‘dealing with the past’ in Northern Ireland, particularly through the themes of voice, agency and blame. In the Northern Ireland context, victimhood has become highly politicised. By examining victimhood through the lenses of voice, agency, and blame, this project seeks to produce a more comprehensive and multi-faceted understanding of the politics of victimhood in Northern Ireland. For example, the voices of victims can be co-opted, or instrumentalised by others for political ends. In terms of agency, victims have engaged in a wide range of advocacy strategies, such as political lobbying, or involvement in domestic or international legal challenges. Some of these strategies have been more effective than others. The notions of blame and blamelessness feature in claims to the existence of a hierarchy of victimhood in Northern Ireland; in such a hierarchy, certain victim’s voices may be amplified, where others are silenced. Issues of voice, agency and blame therefore complicate the question of ‘who’ is a victim of violent conflict, what victimhood ‘means,’ and ultimately how victims’ needs – and which victim’s needs – are met.
It is hoped that this project will contribute to a more politically and socially grounded understanding of victimhood that reflects the complexities of a post-conflict society. By producing a diverse range of outputs accessible to both non-academic and academic users, including articles in local newspapers, policy reports, media training workshops and the creation of a storytelling repository, it is intended that the findings of this research will in turn feed into more progressive praxis in the victims’ sector in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
Arts and Humanities Research Council