Boundaries, Territory, Identity and Violence

T. K. Wilson

in Frontiers of Violence

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583713
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723056 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Boundaries, Territory, Identity and Violence

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter explores conflict dynamics as both Ulster and Upper Silesia as interactive processes. It compares the types of violence practised in each conflict, their spatial patterning, and their limitations. It argues that to a large extent the local meanings and impact of violent actions in Ulster and Upper Silesia were determined by the nature of the boundaries of national/communal identity that predominated in each case. Boundaries mattered because coherent strategies depended upon their delineation. The clear polarisation of Ulster society into two rival communities facilitated local deterrence relationships. Deterrence both propagated and partially restrained inter-communal conflict. Upper Silesian society avoided such clear polarisation. But the enduring ambiguity that surrounded the national identity of many Upper Silesians also acted as an incentive to militants to attempt to create more robust divisions through memorably grotesque violence. National ambivalence in Upper Silesia therefore offered decidedly mixed blessings.

Keywords: Upper Silesia; Ulster; Northern Ireland; polarisation; deterrence; national ambivalence

Chapter.  23296 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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