‘High Resolution’ Indicators in Peacebuilding: The Utility of Political Memory

This article explores the use of political memory in examining, and providing indicators for, everyday processes of peacebuilding in divided societies, using Northern Ireland as a brief case study. Adopting a position critical of many formal peacebuilding indicators, the article argues for the utility of informal, ‘high resolution’ indicators that can be supplied by examining localized and everyday forms of post-conflict memory. In so doing, the article views the ‘dealing with the past’ and reconciliatory paradigm of social memory in identity driven conflicts as being inadequate for this purpose, and instead posits a more nuanced form of examining memory as a political arena. A case study of political memory in east Belfast is introduced to illustrate both the need for nuance in highlighting localized activity, and need to better reflect a complex and ambiguous peacebuilding environment. Suggestions for methodological approaches geared to capturing processes of everyday political memory, and how these processes can inform praxis, concludes the study.