Learning behind bars : how IRA prisoners shaped the peace process in Ireland
Toronto ; Buffalo ; London : University of Toronto Press, 2022
REINISCH, Dieter, Learning behind bars : how IRA prisoners shaped the peace process in Ireland, Toronto ; Buffalo ; London : University of Toronto Press, 2022 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/75125
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
This book is an oral history of former Irish republican prisoners in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland between 1971, the year of the introduction of internment in Northern Ireland, and 2000, the year of the closure of the high-security prison HMP Maze. It focuses on the lives of Irish republican prisoners inside Irish and British internment camps and prisons during the height of the Northern Irish Troubles. The book discusses the relationship between three themes: political subjectivity, informal education, and collective resistance. Based on extensive life-story interviews with 34 ex-prisoners, the book examines the evolution of their subjective understandings of self and identity at the intersection of informal education in the prisons and the collective resistance resulting from this subjectification. Using the recent conflict on the island of Ireland as a case study, the book provides insight into political prisoners' role in ending armed conflicts, and into the personal and political development of radical activists during their imprisonment. Of the many groups supporting the Northern Irish peace process in the 1990s, one of the most remarkable are former inmates of internment camps and prisons. This group is noteworthy because it was formed of collectives of political prisoners who were almost entirely self-educated. The book's central focus is as follows: due to their informal self-education, the republican internees and prisoners could influence political developments outside the prisons from within their organizations. The author argues that the key to the process of (political) subjectivity, the becoming of a subject inside and outside the prisons, is political education. It was, namely, the self-organized lectures and debates that formed the subject politically and strengthened the inmates' identity as 'Prisoners of War'. This subjectivity enabled them to stage acts of resistance in defence of their developed identity. In other words, the self-awareness gained through self-education of young, politically inexperienced subjects empowered the individual prisoners to resist as a collective in the total institution that was the Irish and Northern Irish prison system during the Northern Irish conflict.
Table of Contents:
The Irish prison arena: Republican prisoners and the Northern Ireland conflict -- ‘Portlaoise is an example for this’: Portlaoise prison protests, 1973-77-- 'No prisoner has the right to advance the education of another': Education in Portlaoise prison -- The Harvey/McCaughey/Smith Cumann: Sinn Féin in Portlaoise prison, 1978-c.1986 -- 'He was just rhyming off pages of it': Internment & the Brownie papers, 1971-76/7 -- Marxist Esperanto and socialism in Cell 26: Reading, thinking & writing in the H-Blocks, 1983-89 -- 'It's only when you look back…': The fall of the Berlin wall and the peace process in the 1990s.
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/75125
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
LC Subject Heading: Political prisoners -- Northern Ireland -- History -- 20th century; Northern Ireland -- History -- 1968-1998
Sponsorship and Funder information:
This book has been published with a financial subsidy from the European University Institute and the National University of Ireland.
Initial version: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/55784
Version: Published version of EUI PhD thesis, 2018
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