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Frontiers of ViolenceConflict and Identity in Ulster and Upper Silesia 1918-1922$
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Timothy Wilson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583713

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583713.001.0001

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Boundaries, Territory, Identity and Violence

Boundaries, Territory, Identity and Violence

(p.159) 4 Boundaries, Territory, Identity and Violence
Frontiers of Violence

T. K. Wilson

Oxford University Press

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

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