Hoover Institution: Troubled Images exhibition opening

Troubled Images exhibition opening: Northern Ireland’s past, present, and future discussed
Hoover Institution
29 March 2004

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University opened their hosting of the Troubled Images exhibition, which includes a seminar, “Troubled Images exhibition opening: Northern Ireland’s past, present, and future discussed”:

“I want to talk about the future—how to move into the future” began Byron Bland, in his presentation on “Creating a Political Language for Peace.” Bland, associate director of the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation, was the featured speaker at a seminar that opened the Troubled Images: Posters and Images of the Northern Ireland Conflict, Linen Hall Library exhibition.

Bland, who is also a Presbyterian minister, became involved in the peace process 13 years ago when he met a Jesuit priest at Stanford who was working in the Portadown area in Northern Ireland, an especially violent place during the “Troubles.” Bland offered assistance to the priest, which led to a conversation about how he could help that continues today.

In his presentation Bland outlined a framework that was used in promoting peaceful cooperation at the grassroots level among participants in Northern Ireland. He said that, in conflict, people prepare themselves by developing identities to sustain themselves and that people must do the same in creating a political language for peace. “The exhibit,” he pointed out, “is important in that it documents how regular people can see each other as enemies.”

With this project, which began four years ago, he was interested in the relationship of dialogue and reconciliation but quickly learned they are two different things. Dialogue, he said, begins with three questions: What do you want? Why do you want it? and, given that others disagree, What can you live with? He went on to explain that dialogue is about understanding and that their project tried to identify the barriers to greater understanding. Reconciliation, on the other hand, has to do with partnership and the barriers that stand in the way of greater partnership. Success comes, he said, “when people begin to want for the other side what the other side wants for itself.”

Following the seminar there was a reception in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Pavilion which began with a performance of Irish dancing by a local dance troupe. At the reception John Raisian, Hoover senior fellow and director, welcomed guests and expressed his pleasure at Hoover’s role in the preservation of the materials used in this exhibition. Other speakers were Martin Uden, consul general of the United Kingdom; Sylvia McLaughlin, deputy consul general of Ireland; Bill Montgomery, vice president, Linen Hall Library Board of Governors; and Yvonne Murphy, librarian of the Northern Ireland Political Collection and curator of the Troubled Images exhibition.

Troubled Images: Posters and Images of the Northern Ireland Conflict, Linen Hall Library is a 70-poster exhibit that reflects the emotions and hopes of a deeply divided society in conflict. Explaining the purpose of the exhibition, Linen Hall librarian John Gray states “our first intention was to open doors to understanding and in an accessible way for our own community. In doing so we are also suggesting a way of acting that may have a wider international resonance. After more than thirty years of conflict we need to lift the blanket of silence.”

The exhibit is now open at the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion at the Hoover Institution on the Stanford University campus, its only venue on the West Coast. In collaboration with the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, the Hoover Institution thus proudly presents Troubled Images: Posters and Images of the Northern Ireland Conflict; the exhibit began on March 16, 2004.