Something as simple as commemorating
On November 2, I attended another Research Seminar at my university. This last one was quite different from Rita Kelly’s, since this one was not focused on a creative writing topic, but on a sensitive subject: the centenary of the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Personally, I found it a very interesting topic, since, as a foreign student, I found the immersion in this part of the history of Ireland, the country that has now become my second home, very interesting. Some Irish people had already told me a little (never without going into depth) about some of the most relevant historical points of the country, among them the English invasion. I myself even inadvertently started watching a series on Netflix called Derry Girls of Northern Ireland origin, which is set in the final years of the conflict The Troubles. All of this is how little I knew of the history behind Ireland, so it was gratifying to hear Heather Laird speak.
She began the talk by distinguishing the concept of “commemoration” and “decolonization”. By commemoration is meant an action of solemnly remembering someone or something that happened, but it is the concept of “decolonization” that raises the most controversy, as it has been a topic of debate and review for the last century. When reading this term, we all have in mind the general idea of the process of independence of a territory that was related to a foreign territory and dominated in a social, economic and political sense (something like this can be applied to the establishment of the Irish Free State). As I noted at the beginning, this term has been studied by many thinkers such as Franz Fanon or Edward Said, but it remains a concept, as Heather Laird said, typical of the academic environment.
This talk has made me think of my years at the Complutense University of Madrid, where we talked about Said, about the prejudices of the foreigner in literature, about how history shapes a nation and how the inhabitants of it create stories or even criticisms. Even so, I believe that the subject of decolonization and the vision of the other (otherness) was rarely explored. Perhaps in countries like Spain it is not given so much importance because we were not in a position of victims, but we were the ones who colonized and today they still commemorate the dates on which we began to colonize (how ironic, in this case it is commemorated in honor of the memory of a country that invaded and colonized), but there are the same concepts applied from another point of view. It was very pleasing to hear how Ireland became a free state and as a result of that, as well as apprehending a deeper meaning of the words “commemorate” and “decolonize”.