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'The person inside it has to be part of it': Empathy, Post-Conflict Heritage and 'Troubles Tourism' in Northern Ireland

Markham, Katie Jessica (2017) 'The person inside it has to be part of it': Empathy, Post-Conflict Heritage and 'Troubles Tourism' in Northern Ireland. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

April 2018 will mark twenty years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Whilst defined by historic levels of peace, for the people living in Northern Ireland the past two decades have also been characterised by irreconcilable divisions over how to interpret the recent past, and rising levels of ethno-sectarian atavism amongst the nation’s interface communities. The informal heritage sector is one area where these issues manifest, where contestations over how to represent the Troubles to outsiders, and within communities, are often described as a ‘war by other means’. This thesis explores the role of empathy in relation to Belfast’s Troubles heritage, specifically in relation to the experiences of the ‘troubles tourist’. Discussions of empathy’s benefits for understanding the ‘other’ have already been advanced within heritage studies, however what is less acknowledged is its usage as a political tool, which maintains rather than overcomes structural inequalities and power relations. Combining semi-structured interviews with participant observation and autoethnography, this research moves through a range of registers on empathy, analysing discourses of innocence, kitsch, humour and authenticity in relation to the paramilitary museums and black cab mural tours that are a key part of post-Troubles heritage in Northern Ireland. Through this approach, this thesis takes a more nuanced approach to empathy than is usually found in the literature, treating it as an amorphous and contingent way of engaging with the world that is deeply entrenched in local politics. In doing so, an original contribution to broader studies of empathy is made, which draws attention to the subtle ways in which it percolates through our social economy. This study also has implications for future engagements with Northern Irish heritage, extending questions about the relevance of empathy to the field, and pushing against the general absence of emotionality from approaches to Northern Ireland’s past.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: post-conflict heritage; Northern Ireland; Belfast; community museums; tourism; empathy; affect; emotion; autoethnography
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Katie Markham
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2018 13:46
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2018 13:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18968

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