The Local, the Global and the Troubling

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This chapter explores what is left out when we examine Northern Ireland as a problem with causes to which there might be solutions. It argues that constituting it this way, as ‘the troubles’, already contributes to the perpetuation of what it is trying to resolve. Such a form of analysis is problematic in other situations, and the chapter will examine the literature on famines as an example of how this happens. If the search for causes and solutions is counterproductive, what do we do? The chapter puts forward two parallel possibilities. First I argue that a Foucauldian approach that proposes drawing on a combination of local knowledges and detailed histories can be helpful. Second I explore the suggestion that locating the troubles in their global context calls for a dialogue that does not forget the ruptures of difference. This means that we should pay attention to what remains troubling: questions such as trauma, violence, testimony and forgiveness. Grand narratives conceal the fragility of possible ‘solutions’; what is needed, the chapter argues, is a slow and painstaking re‐making of the world, brick by brick, that allows the ruins of the past to remain visible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-511
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number4
Early online date28 Nov 2006
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2006


  • intellectuals
  • problem solving
  • violence
  • trauma
  • Forgetting


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