The Poetics of Narrativity: Understanding Trauma, Temporality and Spatiality 40 years after the Birmingham Pub Bombings

Saima Nasar, Gavin Schaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

This article explores the social history of the Birmingham Pub Bombings. As well as individual losses and injuries, the bombings triggered widespread anti-Irish prejudice and violence, wrongful convictions and community tensions. The resultant disharmony within the city of Birmingham lasted for generations, while the voices of communities not directly involved in the events of November 21, 1974 have mostly remained silent. This article offers new lessons in the historical construction of trauma and how we make sense of traumatic events. Using original oral history interviews and witness seminars, it explores the layers of trauma which have been transmitted socially, politically, spatially and inter-generationally. It begins by first focusing on the temporal and spatial dimensions of this local history, which reveal how the reconfiguring of temporalities can be used to locate an inner voice for British post-war, urban, social history. Then, it contextualizes individual and collective experiences of the Birmingham Pub Bombings in order to reveal the ways in which traumatic experiences are placed within a narrative form which order and facilitate the integration of past trauma

within the present. As such, we argue that the poetics of narrativity – or the narrative framing of how and when trauma memories are told, heard and negotiated – has the potential to pull together a richer, more inclusive, community history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social History
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019

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