Friday, May 31, 2019
The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra, Co. Down, Northern Ireland :: Observation Essays, Descriptive Essays
The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra, Co. Down, Federal Ireland Monuments and museums are arenas of public history and for the formation and articulation of identities and narratives.1 Decisions interpreted as to the formation of museums and the selection, display and organisation of exhibits are influenced by criteria which are not necessarily semi governmentally neutral these may specially involve devices of political elites to emphasise aspects of communal togetherness and thus exert control over communities.2 Memory and commemoration of past events and generations is by its nature a political and contested act, especially in sharply shared societies.3 It is no surprise that recently established governments and states should particularly concern themselves with the production of such forms of festivities, commemorations, and monuments.4 As rulers of a sharply divided society, unionist elites in Northern Ireland in the aftermath of its eventful creation in 1920-1 had pa rticular reasons to concern themselves, and did concern themselves, with such strategies of power.5 The integration of the provinces Catholic minority may have been, or may have been felt to be, beyond the rulers of Northern Ireland6 but this very fact heightened the importance of preserving the highest possible degree of political unity under unionist hegemony among the Protestant majority.7 In this context, the opening of the Ulster Folk Museum, located in Cultra in County Down, Northern Ireland (and now linked to the Ulster Transport Museum), in 1964, might theoretically be seen as a strategy in the ongoing attempted maintenance of unionist hegemony and social control in Northern Ireland. This might especially be assumed in that the early 1960s were a time when pressure for reform in Northern Ireland was increasing, and when the governing unionist coalition was fracturing, partly under the strains of early deindustrialisation.8 Such a tourist site might also be seen as a propaga ndistic grounds to appeal for political support (or reduced political opposition) from those with ancestral links to Ulster and its traditions in the wider diaspora. There are however manifold reasons for thinking that it may be rather too tempting to exaggerate the political intentions behind the formation of such a museum at such a time. Foucauldian notions of the exertion of knowledge-power over the homophile body have been rightly criticized (even when applied to more favourable contexts) in that they fail properly to address complicated questions of agency and the issue of in whose enliven any given strategy was exerted.