Published: 20 March 2023 at 15:12
ARU academic will examine music’s influence during the Northern Ireland conflict
As part of this year’s Cambridge Festival line-up, Dr Sean Campbell, Associate Professor of Media and Culture at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), is delivering a talk which will consider the role music played during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.
Throughout Combat Rock: Popular Music and the Northern Ireland Conflict, Dr Campbell will draw upon original interviews and items unearthed from archives to paint a vivid picture of the political opinions expressed through the work of various bands in the 1980s, along with their motivations for engaging in the topic.
With musical interventions having seldom been investigated compared to film or literary responses to the societal turbulence in Northern Ireland, the ARU academic will also assess how successful bands were at conveying messages about the conflict.
The talk, which takes place at 6pm on 23 March, zeroes in on the period between two moments Dr Campbell regards as culturally significant in the conflict: the IRA hunger strikes of 1980-81 and the British Government’s ‘broadcasting ban’ in 1988.
The work of mainstream acts such as The Police and U2 will be examined alongside other bands which have been overlooked in major accounts of political song, including That Petrol Emotion, Easterhouse and Ruefrex – all of whom expressed oppositional perspectives on the conflict.
Having penned Irish Blood, English Heart: Second-Generation Irish Musicians in England, which the Sunday Times named 2011 Music Book of the Year, Dr Campbell is now working on Combat Rock, a new book which will examine similar themes to his Cambridge Festival talk.
Discussing the event and the timely nature of exploring music from Northern Ireland, Dr Campbell said:
The free public event will be hosted in Cambridge by Anglia Ruskin University. Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/combat-rock-popular-music-and-the-northern-ireland-conflict-tickets-484338729177.
In total, 28 ARU academics will be hosting talks and events during this year’s Cambridge Festival. Details of all these sessions can be found on our Cambridge Festival page.