Political Imagery and Bonfires in Northern Ireland
Lecture | April 24 | 12-1 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall
Renée Tosser, Université de la Réunion (France)
Visual displays play an important political role in Northern Ireland. They are often the most visible sign of sectarian division and attitudes in a society still marked by division thirty years after the end of the so-called Troubles. Violence still prevails in that country and sometimes it coalesces around Orange marches, especially during the month of July. July 12, known as "the Twelfth," celebrates the victory of William of Orange at the Battle at the Boyne against the English Catholic King James II in 1690. The celebrations traditionally involve visual displays, in particular large outdoor wall murals and bonfires. The issue of bonfires has been a tricky and contentious subject in recent years, frequently creating weeks of tension each summer. The aim of this talk is to examine recent developments in the older bonfire tradition and to analyze how these celebrations act as social paradigms which entertain and indeed seek to encourage separation between the Catholic and Protestant communities of Northern Ireland.
Speaker: Renée Tosser is Assistant Professor of Irish civilization at Université de la Réunion (France). Her talk will be accompanied by photographs from her exhibition on bonfires entitled "King Billys Towers" which was shown in Ireland and North America in 2016. She will deal with the "Twelfth," and more specifically, her research on bonfires and the photographs she has taken every year in Northern Ireland since 2007.