Northern Ireland and the politics of boredom

Conflict, capital and culture

By George Legg

Northern Ireland and the politics of boredom
Hardcover +
  • Price: £23.50
  • ISBN: 9781526128867
  • Publish Date: Sep 2018
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Paperback +
  • Price: £23.50
  • ISBN: 9781526145895
  • Publish Date: Dec 2019
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £23.50
  • ISBN: 9781526128881
  • Publish Date: Sep 2018
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2888-1
    • Published Date: September 2018


    This book provides a new interpretation of the Northern Irish Troubles. From internment to urban planning, the hunger strikes to post-conflict tourism, it asserts that concepts of capitalism have been consistently deployed to alleviate and exacerbate violence in the North. Through a detailed analysis of the diverse cultural texts, Legg traces the affective energies produced by capitalism's persistent attempt to resolve Northern Ireland's ethnic-national divisions: a process he calls the politics of boredom. Such an approach warrants a reconceptualization of boredom as much as cultural production. In close readings of Derek Mahon's poetry, the photography of Willie Doherty and the female experience of incarceration, Legg argues that cultural texts can delineate a more democratic - less philosophical - conception of ennui. Critics of the Northern Irish Peace Process have begun to apprehend some of these tensions. But an analysis of the post-conflict condition cannot account for capitalism's protracted and enervating impact in Northern Ireland. Consequently, Legg returns to the origins of the Troubles and uses influential theories of capital accumulation to examine how a politicised sense of boredom persists throughout, and after, the years of conflict. Like Left critique, Legg's attention to the politics of boredom interrogates the depleted sense of humanity capitalism can create. What Legg's approach proposes is as unsettling as it is radically new. By attending to Northern Ireland's long-standing experience of ennui, this book ultimately isolates boredom as a source of optimism as well as a means of oppression.


    'In that the book rethinks Northern Ireland in terms other than the established one of political divisions it is already significant. In that it focuses on a potentially progressive mode of understanding actualities which transcend old binaries it is doubly significant.'
    British Association for Irish Studies book prize judges, Highly Commended


    Introduction: the price of peace
    1 Geographies of boredom and the new city of Craigavon
    2 'Middle-class shits': political apathy and the poetry of Derek Mahon
    3 Double negative: the psychogeography of sectarianism in Northern
    Irish photography
    4 Monotony and control: re-reading Internment
    5 'The brightest spot in Ulster': total history and the H-Blocks in film
    Conclusion: Alternative Ulster?


    George Legg is Lecturer in Liberal Arts and London at King's College, London

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