Notice Board

C-STAR work results in £1.1 million coming to Queen's -Queen's Geographers share in £3.2 million ESRC grant to study Divided Cities.

The Economic and Social Research Council announced in June that it was awarding £3.2 million to a five-year, multi-disciplinary project Conflict in Cities and the Contested State: Everyday Life and the Possibilities of Transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided Cities. Starting October 2007, £1.1m will come to Queens' and a team of seven geographers and sociologists led by Prof. Liam O'Dowd, Professor of Sociology in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, and Prof. James Anderson, Co-Director of C-STAR and now Emeritus Professor of Political Geography.

The Principal Investigator is Dr Wendy Pullan, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge; the Co-Investigators are Professor Michael Dumper, Department of Politics, University of Exeter, and Professors O'Dowd and Anderson at Queens. The project was one of three successful projects from twenty-one applications.

It all started with C-STAR's research on the Northern Ireland conflict which resulted in an invitation to Prof. Anderson and Dr. Ian Shuttleworth, C-STAR Director, to give a paper to a Cultures of Violence? symposium in 2003 in Cambridge. There Anderson forged links with Dr. Pullan and together with Dr. Dumper at Exeter they got two grants, 2003-4 and 2005-7 totalling £156,000 from the ESRC's 'New Security Challenges Programme', for work on divided cities centred on Jerusalem; and the development of this collaboration was facilitated by Anderson's Visiting Fellowship in Cambridge in 2007. The resulting, more broadly conceived project builds directly on the Jerusalem work and on a wider record of research in Belfast by Professors Anderson, O'Dowd and their five colleagues.

This includes ESRC-funded and a variety of other C-STAR projects which have involved Dr. Shuttleworth and Dr. Chris Lloyd of the School of Geography, and they will work on population, segregation and the physical structure of the city. It includes sociological research by Professor Madeleine Leonard who will work on the 'peace lines' and particularly on the attitudes of young people; research by Dr. Claire Mitchell who is a specialist in the sociology of religion; and by Dr. Lisa Smyth who focuses on gender. Anderson and O'Dowd as Co-Investigators will oversee this Belfast work while researching the restructuring and reconstruction of the city over the last forty years, and exploring its 'lessons', negative and positive, for conflict management and conflict resolution.

The project has a modular structure which will facilitate Belfast-Jerusalem comparisons about the nature and impact of Belfast's peacelines and the Jerusalem ' Separation Wall', and comparative analysis of how national, religious, class, gender and generational divisions find expression in urban form and public spaces.

The project also includes six PhD studentships, three funded by the ESRC and one funded by each of the three universities involved. While the core research sites are Belfast and Jerusalem, the PhD students will research other divided cities such as Nicosia, Mostar, Berlin, Beirut or Kirkuk. The project will involve and develop an international network of academic experts associated with each of the research sites; an international Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Allan Cochrane of the Open University; and a User Exchange Forum designed to involve policy makers in the research process. Organisations such as Northern Ireland's Community Relations Council and the Equality Commission will be involved. The Queen's research group will be completed by two of the six PhD students (one of them provided by the School of Sociology), and by two postdoctoral Research Associates who will work with the team on Belfast.

Working at the interfaces between Architecture, Geography, Political Science and Sociology, the project will explore how ethnic, national and territorial conflicts materialize in everyday city life, in processes of ethnic and religious segregation, in physical barriers and 'peacelines', and in attempts at conflict management and resolution. The questions addressed will include how the viability of cities in contested states is threatened by deep-seated conflicts, but also how everyday urban life may contain the potential to ameliorate or transform these conflicts. Locally, the Queens' research will help reveal the extent to which recent political accommodation in Northern Ireland is (or is not) expressed at street level in Belfast over the next five years, and what lessons can legitimately be shared with other divided cities which are at different stages of ethnic and national conflict.

Overall this new project will significantly enhance the international profile of geographical and sociological research in the University. It is a development of a strong and long-established tradition of research on divided cities, social conflict and borders at Queen's, and one in which C-STAR has more recently played a central role. Over the last eight years Professors Anderson and O'Dowd have helped forge research links across the University between geography, sociology and other disciplines such as anthropology and political science, through the Centre for International Borders Research (CIBR - - whose Electronic Working Papers Series provides a model for the new project's Working Papers - ). Major externally-funded research has included the Mapping Frontiers project (2004-6) funded by Ireland's Higher Education Authority and the EU which linked over forty researchers in University College Dublin and Queen's in studying cross-border relationships in Ireland. Professors O'Dowd and Anderson also currently represent CIBR's participation in an EU Sixth Framework Project, EUDimensions, studying co-operation across the external borders of the EU between civil society organizations. And in 2011 as part of the new project, the School of Sociology will host a major international conference on Everyday Life in Divided Cities.

C-STAR 2007

Centre for Spatial Territorial Analysis & Research

School of Geography
Queens University