Northern Ireland’s Interregnum. Anna Burns’s Depiction of a (Post)-Troubles State of (In)security
Keywords:divided society, Anna Burns, (post-)Troubles Northern Ireland, society-politics-fiction, a sense of (in)stability/(in)security in contemporary Northern Ireland
This paper aims to present the main contours of Burns’s literary output which, interestingly enough, grows into a personal understanding of the collective mindset of (post)-Troubles Northern Ireland. It is legitimate, I argue, to construe her fiction (No Bones, 2001; Little Constructions, 2007; Milkman, 2018) as a body of work shedding light on certain underlying mechanisms of (post-)sectarian violence. Notwithstanding the lapse of time between 1998 and 2020, the Troubles’ toxic legacy has indeed woven an unbroken thread in the social fabric of the region. My reading of the novelist’s selected works intends to show how the local public have been fed by (or have fed themselves upon) an unjustified—maybe even false—sense of security. Burns, in that regard, has positioned herself amongst the aggregate of writers who feel anxious rather than placated, hence their persistence in returning to the roots of Northern Irish societal divisions. Burns’s writing, in the above context, though immersed in the world of the Troubles, paradoxically communicates “an idiosyncratic spatiotemporality” (Maureen Ruprecht Fadem’s phrase), namely an experience beyond the self-imposing, historical time limits. As such, it gains the ability to provide insightful commentaries on conflict-prone relations, the patterns of which can be repeatedly observed in Northern Ireland’s socio-political milieu. Overall, the main idea here is to discuss and present the narrative realm proposed by Burns as (in)determinate, liminal in terms of time and space, positioning readers between “then” and “now” of the region.
Barry, John. “Northern Ireland: Hardening Borders and Hardening Attitudes.” Soundings, vol. 66, 2017, pp. 48–54.
Bartnik, Ryszard. Inscribed into the Past. A Comparative Study of South African and Northern Irish Literary Narratives After the Political Watersheds of the 1990s. Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM, 2017.
Bartnik, Ryszard. “‘No Bones’ on the Road to Recovery. Anna Burns’ Socio-psychological Study of the Northern Irish Predicament.” Ireland and Victims. Confronting the Past, Forging the Future, edited by Lesley Lelourec and Grainne O’Keeffe-Vigneron, Peter Lang, 2012, pp. 159–75.
Bauman, Zygmunt. In Search of Politics. Stanford UP, 1999.
Braniff, Máire, and Sophie Whiting. “Deep Impact. The Fiction of a Smooth Brexit for Northern Ireland.” Juncture, vol. 23, no. 4, 2017, pp. 249–53. https://doi.org/10.1111/newe.12022
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/newe.12022
Brewer, John. “The Sociology of the Northern Irish Peace Process.” The Legacy of the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Irish Politics, Culture and Art after 1998, edited by Charles I. Armstrong, David Herbert and Jan Erik Mustad, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 271–89. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91232-5_15
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91232-5_15
Burns, Anna. Little Constructions. Fourth Estate, 2007.
Burns, Anna. Milkman. Faber and Faber, 2018.
Burns, Anna. No Bones. Flamingo, 2002.
Canetti, Daphna, et al. “Psychological Barriers to a Peaceful Resolution: Longitudinal Evidence from the Middle East and Northern Ireland.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, vol. 41, no. 8, 2018, pp. 660–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2017.1338051
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2017.1338051
Drong, Leszek. “Doing Justice to the Troubles: Imaginary Reconciliations and Restorative Memory in Post-Agreement Northern Ireland.” Przegląd Kulturoznawczy, vol. 3, no. 37, 2018, 409–25. https://doi. org/10.4467/20843860PK.18.023.10108
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.4467/20843860PK.18.023.10108
Drong, Leszek. Tropy konfliktu. Retoryka pamięci kulturowej we współczesnej powieści północnoirlandzkiej. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, 2020.
Ganiel, Gladys. “A Gender-Balanced Approach to Transforming Cultures of Militarism in Northern Ireland.” The Legacy of the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Irish Politics, Culture and Art after 1998, edited by Charles I. Armstrong, David Herbert and Jan Erik Mustad, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 133–52. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91232-5_8
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91232-5_8
Hamber, Brandon. “There Is a Crack in Everything: Problematizing Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice.” Human Rights Review, vol. 17, 2016, pp. 9–34. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12142-015-0377-z
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12142-015-0377-z
Hancock, Landon E. “Narratives of Commemoration: Identity, Memory, and Conflict in Northern Ireland 1916–2016.” Peace and Change. A Journal of Peace Research, vol. 44, no. 2, 2019, pp. 244–265. https://doi.org/10.1111/pech.12339
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/pech.12339
Heidemann, Birte. New Direction in Irish and Irish American Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
Hoey, Paddy. Shinners, Dissos, Dissenters: Irish Republican Media Activism Since the Good Friday Agreement. Manchester UP, 2018.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9781526114242.001.0001
Long, Declan. Ghost-haunted Land: Contemporary Art and Post-Troubles Northern Ireland. Manchester UP, 2017.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9781784991449.001.0001
Łojek, Aleksandra. Belfast. 99 ścian pokoju. Wydawnictwo Czarne, 2015.
Patterson, Glenn. Here’s Me Here. New Island, 2015.
Patterson, Glenn. Lapsed Protestant. New Island, 2006.
Piątek, Beata. “The ‘Unspeakableness’ of Life in Northern Ireland. Anna Burns’s Milkman.” Litteraria Copernicana, vol. 3, no. 35, 2020, pp. 105–14. https://doi.org/10.12775/LC.2020.039
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.12775/LC.2020.039
Sacks, Jonathan. “Turning Enemies into Friends.” After Terror, edited by Akbar Ahmed and Brian Forst, Polity, 2005, pp. 112–19.
Smyth, Geraldine. “Remembering to Begin with Peace.” Remembering to Forgive, edited by Enda McDonagh, Veritas, 2007, pp. 121–41.
Smyth, Marie Breen. Truth Recovery and Justice After Conflict. Managing Violent Pasts. Routledge, 2007.
Studemann, Frederick. “Man Booker Winner Anna Burns on Lessons from the ‘Powder Keg.’” Financial Times, 19 Oct. 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/67502218-d2b5-11e8-a9f2-7574db66bcd5 accessed 22 June 2020.
Sztompka, Piotr. “The Trauma of Social Change. A Case of Postcommunist Societies.” Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity, edited by Jeffrey Alexander et al., U of California P, 2004, pp. 155–95.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520235946.003.0005
Viggiani, Elisabetta. Talking Stones: The Politics of Memorialization in Post-conflict Northern Ireland. Berghahn, 2014.
Yeats, William Butler. “The Second Coming.” Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43290/the-second-coming accessed 15 Mar. 2021.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.