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Disremembering 1798? An Archaeology of Social Forgetting and Remembrance in Ulster

Guy Beiner
History and Memory
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2013), pp. 9-50
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/histmemo.25.1.9
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/histmemo.25.1.9
Page Count: 42
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Disremembering 1798? An Archaeology of Social Forgetting and Remembrance in Ulster
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Abstract

On the face of it, the legacy of the 1798 rebellion in the northeastern Irish counties of Antrim and Down seems to be a paradigmatic case of “collective amnesia.” Over the course of the long nineteenth century, growing identification of the Protestants of the area with unionism, loyalism and Orangeism, fortified through opposition to the rise of nationalism amongst Catholics, encouraged public effacement of discomforting memories of the mass participation of Protestants, in particular Presbyterians, in republican insurrection. However, the uncovering of a “hidden” (or perhaps relatively low-profile) popular historiography grounded in oral traditions reveals continuous obsessive, though characteristically ambivalent, local preoccupation with remembrance of the rebellion. Acknowledging that forgetting is not the antithesis, but an integral component, of memory, this case study of what appears to be an Ulster lieu d'oubli conceptualizes “social forgetting” as the outcome of multi-layered relationships between oblivion and remembering.

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