Belfast punk and the Troubles: An oral history

By Fearghus Roulston

Belfast punk and the Troubles: An oral history


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5223-7
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: July 2022
  • BIC Category: Northern Ireland, Oral History, Irish History, History, Oral history, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Punk, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, The arts / Punk, New Wave & Indie, Humanities / Social & cultural history


Belfast punk and the Troubles is an oral history of the punk scene in Belfast from the mid-1970s to the mid-80s. The book explores what it was like to be a punk in a city shaped by the violence of the Troubles, and how this differed from being a punk elsewhere. It also asks what it means to have been a punk - how punk unravels as a thread throughout the lives of the people interviewed, and what that unravelling means in the context of post-peace-process Northern Ireland. In doing so, it suggests a critical understanding of sectarianism, subjectivity and memory politics in the North, and argues for the importance of placing punk within the segregated structures of everyday life described by the interviewees.

Adopting an innovative oral history approach drawing on the work of Luisa Passerini and Alessandro Portelli, the book analyses a small number of oral history interviews with participants in granular detail. Outlining the historical context and the cultural memory of punk, the central chapters each delve into one or two interviews to draw out the affective, imaginative and political ways in which punks and former punks evoke their memories of taking part in the scene. Through this method, it analyses the punk scene as a structure of feeling shaped through the experience of growing up in wartime Belfast.

Belfast punk and the Troubles is an intervention in Northern Irish historiography stressing the importance of history from below, and will be compelling reading for historians of Ireland and of punk, as well as those interested in innovative approaches to oral history.


1. Alternative Ulster? Sectarianism, segregation and the punk scene
2. The Belfast punk scene in cultural memory
3. Epiphany, transgression and movement
4. Making affective and political spaces
5. Gender, respectability and emigration
6. Collecting, storytelling and memory



Fearghus Roulston is a Research Fellow at the University of Brighton

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