Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The life history of an exemplary Provisional republican: Gerry Adams and the politics of biography
Authors: Hopkins, S
First Published: 27-Mar-2018
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge) for Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI)
Citation: IRISH POLITICAL STUDIES, 2018, 33 (2), pp. 259-277 (19)
Abstract: This article examines the biographical writing devoted to the critical individual in the history of the Provisional Irish republican movement, Gerry Adams. As President of Sinn Féin from 1983 until he stepped down in February 2018, Adams has been viewed by many as the key figure in the leadership of the Provisional movement, despite his long-standing and continuing denial of membership in its armed ‘wing’, the Irish Republican Army. He has been interpreted as being instrumental in shaping, if not determining the evolution of Provisional republicanism, which began as a movement committed to violent insurrection in the cause of Irish unity and, after causing approximately 49 per cent of the deaths during the ‘Troubles’, subsequently espoused a largely non-violent political strategy in the post-Belfast Agreement era after 1998. This article takes a comparative approach to the three biographies of Adams published to date, by Colm Keena [(1990). A biography of Gerry Adams. Cork: Mercier], David Sharrock and Mark Devenport [(1997). Man of war, man of peace? The unauthorised biography of Gerry Adams. London: Macmillan] and Malachi O’Doherty [(2017). Gerry Adams: An unauthorised life. London: Faber and Faber]. The argument pursued here is that the biographical study of political life histories of emblematic individuals, such as Adams, may shed significant light upon the trajectory and character of the parties/movements which they lead. Moreover, the academic study of biographical writing should be an important resource for political scientists and contemporary historians, although there has been a tendency to marginalise this approach from the mainstream of the discipline of political science.
DOI Link: 10.1080/07907184.2018.1454666
ISSN: 0790-7184
eISSN: 1743-9078
Embargo on file until: 27-Sep-2019
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2018, Political Studies Association of Ireland. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. (
Description: The file associated with this record is under embargo until 18 months after publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Politics and International Relations

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Adams+Biog+IPS+12+March.pdfPost-review (final submitted author manuscript)270.52 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in LRA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.