Frontiers of Violence: Conflict and Identity in Ulster and Upper Silesia, 1918-1922

Frontiers of Violence: Conflict and Identity in Ulster and Upper Silesia, 1918-1922

by Timothy Wilson
     
 

In the years after the First World War both Ulster and Upper Silesia saw violent conflicts over self-determination. The violence in Upper Silesia was more intense both in the numbers killed and in the forms it took. Acts of violation such as rape or mutilation were noticeably more common in Upper Silesia than in Ulster.

Examining the nature of communal boundaries

Overview

In the years after the First World War both Ulster and Upper Silesia saw violent conflicts over self-determination. The violence in Upper Silesia was more intense both in the numbers killed and in the forms it took. Acts of violation such as rape or mutilation were noticeably more common in Upper Silesia than in Ulster.

Examining the nature of communal boundaries, Timothy Wilson explains the profound contrasts in these experiences of plebeian violence. In Ulster the rival communities were divided by religion, but shared a common language. In Upper Silesia, the rival sides were united in religion-92 per cent of the local population being Catholic-but ostensibly divided on linguistic grounds between German and Polish speakers. In practice, language in Upper Silesia proved a far more porous boundary than did religion in Ulster. Language could not always be taken as a straightforward indication of national loyalties.

At a local level, boundaries mattered because without them there could not be any sense of security. In Ulster, where communal identities were already clearly staked out, militants tended to concentrate on the limited task of boundary maintenance. In Upper Silesia, where national identities were so unclear, they focused upon boundary creation. This was a task that required more "transgressive" violence. Hence atrocity was more widely practised in Upper Silesia because it could, and did, act as a polarizing force.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What impresses most about this study is its forensic rigor, its attention to detail, and its balance...T. K. Wilson's study has offered some bold new perspectives on the nature of Irish and Polish nationalism and on the contentious and contested nature of identity formation in fractured societies." —Journal of British Studies

"A comprehensively researched and invaluable perspective."—International Journal of African Historical Studies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199583713
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/13/2010
Series:
Oxford Historical Monographs Series
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Timothy Wilson is a research fellow in the Irish Studies Research Initiative at Queen's University, Belfast.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >