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‘Our Journey, Our Narrative’: narratives of para(militarism) and conflict transformation in the ACT exhibition

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The broad scope of contemporary research on paramilitary loyalism has yet to address the visual representations of paramilitarism within conflict transformation models. Addressing this gap, this paper explores representations of the Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitary group within the context of the exhibition produced by Action for Community Transformation (ACT). Though the organisation’s remit is to facilitate former Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) combatants’ transition into normative societal roles utilising conflict transformation practices, the group also houses a socio-historical exhibition titled ‘Our Journey, Our Narrative’ at its permanent West Belfast offices. The exhibition constructs a specific version of loyalist heritage by tracing the UVF’s origin and connection to the British military, narrating a history of the conflict, and exposing visitors to ACT’s ongoing efforts at grassroots conflict transformation. This paper situates the ACT exhibition within contemporary discourses of heritage construction in post-ceasefire contexts, and contends that the exhibition provides a space of education and legitimisation for narratives around paramilitary history and methods of conflict transformation.
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Keywords: conflict transformation; ex-prisoners; heritage; loyalism; material culture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Vice President of Research Development, Abbey Research, Philadelphia, USA

Publication date: September 2019

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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