Long Kesh/Maze: A Case for Participation in Post-Conflict Heritage

Louise Purbrick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


In both heritage theory and practice, participation is now a key concern. Participation is not a matter of visitor numbers or other evaluations of impact but integral to the practice and meaning of heritage itself; heritage is located in acts of witnessing, interpreting, memorialising and appropriating undertaken by all kinds of people at and around sites of heritage. A similar concern with participation is evident in fine art, where performance has taken primacy over the material form. This paper ‘thinks with’ ideas of participation in relation to the practice of heritage at the prison site of Long Kesh and the Maze. Apart from relatively small listed sections, its buildings were demolished in 2006 and most of the site is deserted. Disagreements over the meaning of violence, victimhood, sectarianism, terrorism, and, in particular, the legacy of the hunger strikes of 1981, have halted plans for its development as a post-conflict heritage destination and place of conflict resolution. The past of the prison still exerts considerable power in debates over its possible future use and, more generally, over the role of conflict heritage in the conflict resolution process. This chapter asks: could participation unlock the heritage of this contested site of incarceration? It reflects upon moments of contest and consensus in the debate about the heritage of imprisonment at Long Kesh and the Maze over the last twenty years, since the signing of the Belfast Agreement, but also explores how a focus upon the immaterial as well as material, performative as well as spatial, may offer an alternative way of understanding its heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHeritage After Conflict: Northern Ireland
EditorsE. Crooke, T. Maguire
Place of PublicationAbingdon
ISBN (Print)9780815386360
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Heritage

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Heritage After Conflict on 20/07/2018, available online: https://www.routledge.com/Heritage-after-Conflict-Northern-Ireland/Crooke-Maguire/p/book/9780815386360


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