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Come and join us for Dr Eleanor L. Williams' talk on "What’s the craic? Humour, secret negotiations and the Northern Ireland peace process"

About this event

Description of event:

Brief event description: In a quiet corner of Pembroke College there is a team of researchers trawling through the archives surrounding the Northern Ireland peace process, a team that I am a part of. When you think about the Northern Ireland peace process, you instantly, and rightly, begin to think of its importance and its seriousness. Indeed, it was a grave situation and a high stakes process. The Northern Ireland conflict was entering its third decade, thousands had been killed, there had been numerous attacks on government figures, tit-for-tat killings were gripping Northern Ireland society. Bringing peace to Northern Ireland was no mean feat. However, in the midst of the painstaking meetings and momentous moments, what we also found was quite joyous. In our office online chat, we would share clippings of humorous anecdotes we had found going through the archives. From sarcastic remarks, to hilarious gestures, these were evident throughout the Northern Ireland secret peace talks. However, was there anything behind this? Why were these humorous remarks being made? Surely this wasn’t the time for jokes? What role did humour have in the Northern Ireland peace process? Does humour have a place in the secret side of peace processes? 

Speaker's bio:

Dr Eleanor Leah Williams is a Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. Her current research specialises on the covert role of civil servants during the conflict in Northern Ireland. Her previous research considered the ethical controversies of state intelligence during the conflict in Northern Ireland and Colombia. She has published her work in Intelligence and National Security and Critical Studies on Terrorism. Eleanor is a committee member of the ECPR Standing Group for Political Violence and runs the North American Society for Intelligence History [NASIH] PhD Writing Group. Eleanor has also presented on the intelligence war in Northern Ireland on the US podcast SpyCast: