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“It was known as the place where nothing ever happens. But it did. It did”: trauma, identity, community and the 1988 Lockerbie bombing

October 21, 2022 at 10:00am11:00am EDT

Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons (Room 114)

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Join researchers/criminologists Dr. Andy Clark of Newcastle University and Dr. Colin Atkinson of the University of the West of Scotland as they discuss their recent criminological oral history research with first responders to the Lockerbie disaster site. Supported by funding from the British Academy, Clark and Atkinson conducted a mixture of group and one-to-one interviews with officers from Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary and Strathclyde Police forces, as well as volunteers from the Northumberland Park Mountain Rescue Team. Drawing upon an attentiveness to sensory experiences and the role of the senses in memory, they discuss three themes that emerged through their research interviews:

  • The ways in which the event, and the memories of disaster scene, are narrated by responders through the lens of trauma and emotional response.
  • The role of identity – particularly professional identity – in the narratives of responders is explored.
  • The role of community to capture the collective belonging of first-responders who were brought together as a result of the Lockerbie bombing.

Themes learned can be applied to other community disasters and tragedies.

About the researchers:

Dr. Andy Clark is a researcher with the Oral History Unit at Newcastle University, England. He has led several oral history projects on work, the labor movement, women’s history, factory closures, organized crime and, since 2019, the Lockerbie Disaster. In 2021 he was awarded a prestigious New Investigator Award from the Economic and Social Research Council. His first book, Fighting Deindustrialisation, is published by Liverpool University Press in November 2022. Andy was born and raised in Greenock, Scotland, the town where convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi served his prison sentence prior to release in 2009, and the international media attention on the town sparked his initial interest in learning more about the tragedy.

Dr. Colin Atkinson is a senior lecturer in criminology and criminal justice at the University of the West of Scotland. Before joining the University of the West of Scotland he held the position of research fellow at the University of Glasgow. Colin’s research interests focus mainly upon the intersection of crime, policing, intelligence and security, particularly as these issues relate to terrorism and organized crime. Colin has a professional background in intelligence analysis and counter-terrorism in Scotland, and worked alongside several police officers with first-hand experience of the response to the Lockerbie disaster.

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This event was first published on October 7, 2022 and last updated on October 8, 2022.

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