Masculinities and 'the terrorist' in conflict transformation: representation, identity and reconciliation in post-conflict Northern Ireland

Graham Dawson

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


This article explores the neglected dimension of gender in debates and practices concerned with conflict transformation and post-conflict reconcilation, by focusing on the hyper-masculinized figures of 'the terrorist' and its linked converse, the soldier hero, in representations of paramilitary combatants in the context of the Irish Troubles and peace process. Its particular concern lies in understanding the effects of such representations in relation to the lived identities of both ex-combatants and their victims, and their negotiation and contestation in personal memory-work and in inter-personal encounters framed by discourses of 'reconciliation' and 'coming to terms with the past'. The first part of the article develops a framework grounded in current thinking about memory, identity and life-storytelling to analyse the subjective dimensions of conflict transformation in post-conflict Northern Ireland. It considers the implications of hypermasculinized representation of 'the terrorist' for paramilitary combatant identities during the Troubles, and for the reappraisal of the past and the making of ex-combatant identities in the era since the cease-fires and Good Friday Agreement. The second part anchors this discussion through a case study of the loyalist paramilitary combatant, Michael Stone. It explores the conflicting representations of Stone's identity as terrorist and hero; the negotiation and contestation of these representations in his own memory-work to fashion a post-conflict masculinity; and the dialogic relationship between Stone's story and self-presentation as an ex-combatant and the stories and experiences of victims and survivors of his violence, who also grapple with the afterlife of 'the terrorist'. The analysis offers an interpretation of the gender dimensions and dynamics of these representations and considers their implications for reconciliation within the social world and – utilizing psychoanalytic theorizations – within the internal world of the psyche.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTerrorist transgressions: gender and the visual culture of the terrorist
EditorsSue Malvern, Gabriel Koureas
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781780767017
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2013

Publication series

NameInternational library of cultural studies


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