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Performing shameful silences: Rethinking social space through performative art actions.

   Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

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  Dr Sandra Johnston, Prof Brandon Hamber  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Considering the scale of embodied gestures and temporal presences in conflicted societies, how might social space be made, remade, and unmade through performative art actions?

Reflecting upon conflicts of place and disturbances of spatial memory as a legacy of socio/historical violence in Northern Ireland (and beyond), ideas of shame are embedded in communities, identities and landscapes. Take, for example, the high-profile controversy over potentially turning the Maze/Long Kesh prison and hospital buildings of the 1981 Hunger Strike into a visitor attraction. On a different political register, the demolition of the former Kincora boys' home, where dozens of children were abused. Not to mention more invisible histories, for example, the harm experienced by the LGBTQ+ community during the conflict and the lack of place afforded to such communities in peacebuilding efforts and imagining new futures. In all these examples and many more, deep social fractures and tensions exist between the relationship of harm in the private, familial, community and public realms, between remembering and forgetting, and the value of silences and disclosures.

A range of performative methodologies holds the potential to illuminate the resonances of hidden shame oscillating across the privacies of the family to the level of institutions and public space. Thinking through queer topographies and how residual and continual abuses of race, faith, ideology and gender impact on how and where people live and interact socially, a key question is whether tools and connections might, in bell hooks words, create "a community of resistance'" that can engender change.

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