Perpetrator Studies Network


A Troubled Sleep: Risk and Resilience in Contemporary Northern Ireland

By James Waller.

In contemporary Northern Ireland, more than two decades after the peace agreement that ended the thirty-year sectarian violence known as “the Troubles” the risk of a return to violent conflict is not only present but growing.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, comparative research, and over 110 hours of face-to-face interviews with a diverse range of political, academic, civil society, and community actors across Northern Ireland, A Troubled Sleep revisits one of the world’s most deeply divided societies to analyze Northern Ireland’s current vulnerabilities, and points of resilience, as an allegedly “post-conflict” society. By examining the Northern Ireland example, Waller presents deep insight into what happens when identity politics prevail over democracy, when a paralysis in governance leads to a political vacuum for extremist voices to exploit, when de facto social segregation becomes normalized, when acclimatization to violence becomes a generational legacy, and when questions of who we are become secondary to who we are not.

James Waller is Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and chair of that same department, at Keene State College (NH-US). He is the author of five books, most notably Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing and Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide. In 2017, he was the inaugural recipient of the Engaged Scholarship Prize from the International Association of Genocide Scholars in recognition of his exemplary engagement in advancing genocide awareness and prevention.

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