4th Dec 2013 5:00pm-7:00pm
Suspects and Subjects: Exploring the construction of self in Irish Migrant’s memories of the 1996 Manchester bomb
Dr Barry Hazley, University of Manchester
On the 15 June 1996, the PIRA exploded a 3000lb bomb in the city of Manchester, the second largest bomb on the British mainland since the Second World War. As well as causing extensive damage to the city centre and injuring over 200 people, the bomb brought the city’s large Irish population under public suspicion, provoking a number of retaliatory attacks on Irish people and property in the days following. This paper uses oral history to explore the distinct ways two Irish migrants, both of whom settled in the Manchester area during the post-war period, recall and negotiate their experiences of the bomb and its aftermath. Concerned with how processes of representation, cultural memory and personal identity intersect in the shaping of migrants’ reconstruction of the event, the paper uses the bomb to explore how the culture of suspicion generated around Irishness during ‘The Troubles’ played into the production of Irish identities in Britain. In so doing, the paper raises broader questions about the functioning of ‘silence’, as both a rhetorical trope within and effect of, competing discourses on ‘The Troubles’ in Britain.