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1 Introduction I n this book, written during Ireland’s decade of centenaries, I draw on the aims of the Síreacht series to reimagine commemoration. The Síreacht collection of short books, subtitled ‘Longings for Another Ireland’, are designed to reinvigorate the social imagination and thus encourage speculation on alternatives to current orthodoxies. My contribution to the series commences with a critique of existing commemorative practices and mainstreamhistorywriting.Theprincipalpurposeofthis critique is to open up discussion on the roads untaken in history. I propose ways that we can both make these roads visible and ‘remember’ them. I link the untaken roads of the past to side-branching roads in the present: real possible alternatives to dominant ways of thinking and being, outlining a radical commemoration process that would connect these two sets of roads. Land and property are recurring concerns here. However, while I ground the book in concepts and practices of land and property occupancy and usage, the ideas that I explore are relevant to the broader set of struggles concerning collective welfare that impel the Síreacht series. 2 Commemoration The book crosses time periods and, like some of the activists and agitators it mentions, roams freely over boundaries, though in this case disciplinary ones, referring to history, literature, television drama and documentary, economics, politics, law and art. Notwithstanding its temporal range and sometimes disparate subject matter, Commemoration is intended as a coherent whole, pivoting on a number of key concepts. These concepts are connected in that, for the most part, each provides the foundation for a subsequent one. The distinction formed between the past and history in the opening atomising of commemoration, and the accompanying claims regarding the selective nature of the latter, for example, underpin the connections that I then make between progress and mainstream history writing. This, in turn, allows me to interrogate the concept of progress, and to distinguish between a notion of societal change that looks both to the future and to the damage of the past, and a progressivism that celebrates an unrelenting movement forward despite the devastation left in its wake. The concept of counterfactualism – understood here to be that which did not happen but could have happened – is used to reveal both the potential alternatives hidden by progressivist histories, and the futures that they could have given rise to. These unrealised yet fully realisable past futures are especially numerous, I argue,duringperiodsofpotentpossibility:pointsintime when the future seems particularly open to being shaped by those living in the present. I employ the concept of avant-garde nostalgia, a simultaneous backward/forward 3 Introduction look, when considering how we might disentangle a yearning for a better future from progressivism. Future thinking that is not progressivist embraces change, but draws on disparaged ways of thinking and being that were and are dismissed as obstacles to progress. When devising a title for his book Utopia (1516), Thomas More drewontheGreekwordsou-topos,meaning‘noplace’,and eu-topos, meaning ‘a good place’. Choosing to place emphasis on the latter of these words, I propose that the simultaneous backward/forward look, sceptical of the so-called progressive ideas that simply sustain the present order of things, is the form of utopianism most likely to result in a ‘good place’ that is both different to, and better than, the here and now. ...


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