Clinton Digital Library

Guest Curator

Dr. John Agee Ball

This digital library exhibit was written and curated by Dr. John Agee Ball. In 2016, Dr. Ball served as a Graduate Assistant at the Clinton Presidential Library while enrolled in the Public History Master of Arts Graduate School program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 2017 and 2018, Dr. Ball served the Clinton Presidential Library as an intern and volunteer. 

Dr. John Agee Ball received his Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Pittsburgh where his research focused on political drama in the former Czechoslovakia, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. He has taught at Carnegie Mellon University, the College of Charleston, and Central Washington University. A 1992 graduate of Hendrix College (B.A. in Political Science), Dr. Ball is currently preparing to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine.

Guest Curator's Note:

I became acquainted with Northern Ireland as a student in Hendrix College’s program in Oxford, England during the 1989-90 academic year. There was no peace process in sight, and the Provisional IRA’s bombing campaign was in full swing. I never looked at an unattended piece of luggage or parcel the same way again.

I needed to learn more. So when I was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to research political culture in divided societies, I headed to Belfast where Queen’s University graciously took me in as a visiting graduate student. There was still no peace process to speak of, but there were rumblings. I helped out a little with SDLP member Joe Hendron’s campaign against Gerry Adams in the Sinn Féin stronghold of west Belfast, and the unthinkable happened: Adams lost his parliamentary seat to Hendron. Exhaustion with the status quo was palpable, especially amongst students at Queen’s. It was a very bad year for violence.

My work on this exhibit is dedicated to one of those students, Dr. Anne Marie Cunningham. Anne Marie made time to teach me up on the realities of Northern Ireland and take me to all the places I needed to see in Belfast, Derry, Donegal, and the Mourne Mountains, where her family owns a postcard-ready sheep farm.   JAB