“History has no premeditated design..”

At OpenDemocracy Arthur Aughey, of the University of Ulster, reviews Irish Protestant Identities edited by Mervyn Busteed, Frank Neal and Jonathan Tonge, and invokes Michael Oakeshott’s “image of the dry stone wall to conjure the relation of historical.” An interesting review of what looks to be a very interesting collection of essays touching on, amongst other points, crude stereotyping, the Un-Irish and the Northern Irish identity. From Arthur Aughey’s review.

The dry wall image shifts the focus from destiny to how people and events stand in relation to one another. Some things come on to the agenda but some things also go off. Some things come up for debate but others are settled, at least pro tem. Some things may improve but others may get worse. The dry stone wall of Irish history changes shape, as does the perspective on the relations between its parts, with each modification and addition to it. The eccentricities, irregularities, inconsistencies and – some may think – absurdities, are not defects or irrationalities but actually its constitutive characteristics. Then again, these things are not ‘set in stone’. They are not ‘natural’ but ‘artificial’ in the sense that they are the contingent outcomes of political artifice and so are always open to amendment.

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