Rebel Songs, Resistance, and Irish Republicanism
In Belfast’s rebel music scene, Irish republican musicians and audiences engage in ritualized resistance against the British state
The signing of the Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998, marked the beginning of a new era of peace and stability in Northern Ireland. As the public has overwhelmingly rejected a return to the violence of the Troubles (1968–1998), loyalist and republican groups have sought other outlets to continue their struggle. Music has long been used to celebrate cultural identity in the North of Ireland: from street parades to football chants, and from folk festivals to YouTube videos, music facilitates the continuation of pre-Agreement identity narratives in a “post-conflict” era. Sounding Dissent draws on original in-depth interviews with Irish republican musicians, contemporary audiences, and former paramilitaries, as well as diverse historical and archival material, including songbooks, prison records, and newspaper articles, to understand the history of political violence in Ireland. The book examines the hagiographic potential of rebel songs to memorialize a pantheon of republican martyrs, and demonstrates how musical performance and political song not only articulate experiences and memories of oppression and violence, but play a central role in the reproduction of conflict and exclusion in times of peace.
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