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Historical Perspective

Powerful Essays
Historical Perspective

Unfortunately, all most Americans know about the event known as Bloody Sunday, they learned from U2's smash hit, "Sunday Bloody Sunday." The source of this song's popularity stems from its ability to evoke widespread sympathy for Irish by painting an unforgettable picture of death and despair in the minds of each of its listeners. So what is unfortunate about this song being the primary source of historical knowledge concerning Bloody Sunday for most Americans? It is unfortunate not because of its lack of information or authenticity, but because of its lack of historical perspective.

Essayist Jane Tompkins addresses this idea of perspecitivism by citing the changing representation of colonial American Indians in historical texts dating from 1964 to 1978. According to Limerick, in historical texts from the early 1960s, Indians weren't represented at all; they were "simply beneath notice" (65). By the late 1960s Indian culture, albeit "an inferior culture" (65), was finally acknowledged. In the early 1970s Indians "were the more or less innocent prey of the power-hungry whites" (65), but not until 1978 did Indians become "complicated, purposeful human beings, whose lives were spiritually motivated to a high degree" (66). Tompkins argues that because every historical account is a product of its author's perspective, it is important to analyze varying sources, including those of the traditionally under-represented. What I found in my research of Bloody Sunday is that in our efforts to account for the traditionally under-represented perspective, we have absentmindedly omitted the dominant perspective instead. This omission will undoubtedly cause the same problems that omitting the traditionally under-repr...

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... Unlimited Special Reports. 20 Oct. 2000. <http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/bloodysunday/article/0,2763,184927,00.html>.

Limmerick, Patricia Nelson. The Legacy of Conquest. New York and London: W.W.

Norton & Company, 1987. 35-54.

McClean, Raymond, M.D. The Road to Bloody Sunday. L'Derry, Northern Ireland:

Guildhall Press, 1997. 120-130.

Morrison, Matt. "Remembering Bloody Sunday." The Irish People. 25 Jan. 1997. 1 Oct. 2000 <http://larkspirit.com/bloodysunday/witness.htm>.

Tompkins, Jane. “’Indians’: Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History.” in

“Race,” Writing, and Difference. Chicago and London: The University of

Chicago Press, 1986. 59-77.

Winchester, Simon. "13 Killed as Paratroopers Break Riot." Guardian Unlimited Special Reports. 20 Oct. 2000. <http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/bloodysunday/article/0,2763,184928,00.html>.
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