Northern Ireland and the politics of boredom

Conflict, capital and culture

By George Legg

Northern Ireland and the politics of boredom


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2886-7
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: September 2018
  • BIC Category: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Humanities / British & Irish history, Northern Ireland, Literature & literary studies / General, Society & social sciences / Comparative politics


This book provides a new interpretation of the Northern Irish Troubles. From internment to urban planning, the hunger strikes to post-conflict tourism, it asserts that concepts of capitalism have been consistently deployed to alleviate and exacerbate violence in the North. Through a detailed analysis of the diverse cultural texts, Legg traces the affective energies produced by capitalism's persistent attempt to resolve Northern Ireland's ethnic-national divisions: a process he calls the politics of boredom. Such an approach warrants a reconceptualization of boredom as much as cultural production. In close readings of Derek Mahon's poetry, the photography of Willie Doherty and the female experience of incarceration, Legg argues that cultural texts can delineate a more democratic - less philosophical - conception of ennui. Critics of the Northern Irish Peace Process have begun to apprehend some of these tensions. But an analysis of the post-conflict condition cannot account for capitalism's protracted and enervating impact in Northern Ireland. Consequently, Legg returns to the origins of the Troubles and uses influential theories of capital accumulation to examine how a politicised sense of boredom persists throughout, and after, the years of conflict. Like Left critique, Legg's attention to the politics of boredom interrogates the depleted sense of humanity capitalism can create. What Legg's approach proposes is as unsettling as it is radically new. By attending to Northern Ireland's long-standing experience of ennui, this book ultimately isolates boredom as a source of optimism as well as a means of oppression.


George Legg is Lecturer in Liberal Arts and London at King's College, London


Introduction: the price of peace
1 Geographies of boredom and the new city of Craigavon
2 'Middle-class shits': political apathy and the poetry of Derek Mahon
3 Double negative: the psychogeography of sectarianism in Northern
Irish photography
4 Monotony and control: re-reading Internment
5 'The brightest spot in Ulster': total history and the H-Blocks in film
Conclusion: Alternative Ulster?

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