KEYNOTE: Prisons Memory Archive – Cahal McLaughlin

The Prisons Memory archive is a collection of 175 filmed walk-and-talk interviews back inside the prisons of the Anglo-Irish ‘Troubles’ (a period of 30 years of armed political conflict stretching approximately from 1968 to 1998). Applying principles of co-ownership and protocols of inclusivity and life-story telling, 175 people were filmed inside the empty Armagh Gaol and the Maze and Long Kesh Prison during 2006 and 2007. Prison staff, prisoners, probation officers, teachers, family visitors and chaplains remember their experiences during a period of intense violence, societal division and military containment.

I will address how we record and exhibit memories from a conflicted past in a contested present; how collaboration operates in film production; how stories from constituencies that have been ‘at war’ might share screen space; how audiences might participate in the creation of meaning from the recordings; and how, by telling the prison story (one of the most contested of narratives), we are addressing fundamental ethical issues of authorship and acknowledgement that characterize the debates about how to address the legacy of the past in a divided society.

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