Research Strands

C-STAR's research is concentrated around four interwoven strands:

  • Population censuses, their analysis and political implications
  • Ethno-national conflict, territoriality and population segregation
  • Labour markets, employment patterns, international migration
  • State territoriality, borders and cross-border processes

Each of these overlapping areas involves quantitative and qualitative research and applied and theoretical issues. They are linked by cross-cutting themes of spatial distribution and territoriality in the politics, economics and political economy of population - issues of social inclusion/exclusion, territorial segregation/integration, relations between external and internal borders, and the spatiality of everyday life. The main empirical focus is on Northern Ireland, seen in a wider comparative and theoretical context. This utilises its advantages as a 'laboratory' for studying demography and territoriality in the highly politicised spaces enclosed by a contested state border. It facilitates international comparative work with other divided societies and the possibilities of generalising theoretical and practical policy lessons between them.

1. Population censuses, their analysis and political implications

This is one of the longest established research strands, commencing in the early 1990s with work on the 1991 Northern Ireland Census of Population, now being updated and expanded for the 2001 Census. One focus is on political demography - how demographic statistics are used and abused in politicised public discourses; the imputing of political causes and effects which may or may not be warranted by the Census data (or other sources); and relations between population and electoral geography. Another focus is the analysis of demographic change, the creation of consistent time series data, and different methods of measuring population segregation/mixing.

2. Ethno-national conflict, territoriality and segregation/mixing

This is based in Strand 1 and links it to more general issues in the political geography of nationalism and national conflict over territory; and to other divided societies and divided cities. It also links with Strand 3 in that segregation/mixing is considered in the sphere of employment and labour markets as well as in residence and other milieu; and with Strand 4 in that local urban territorialities are related to national and state borders. Territoriality is seen as a means of managing conflict but one which also tends to exacerbate or generate further conflict.

3. Labour markets, employment patterns, international migration

This strand developed from an interest in the effectiveness of policies for promoting social inclusion and targeting social need, especially in terms of social and spatial accessibility. It has been a major area for applied research and contract earnings, where close links have been established with Government employment agencies and other bodies associated with the Northern Ireland administration such as the Equality Commission. It overlaps with the previous strands in that accessibility is seriously affected by territoriality and segregation which distort what might be conceived as 'normal' spatial behaviour patterns. More recently, this strand has been strengthened by theoretical work on cheap immigrant labour as a possible 'spatial fix' for crises of profitability in 'core' capitalist economies; and the intersections or mutually constituting overlaps of local and transnational labour markets.

4. State territoriality, borders and cross-border processes

This is also a well-established strand which dates from the early 1990s and joint research into North-South integration in Ireland and the obstacles to it, in the context of the then newly-established Single European Market. The general focus here is on state territoriality and sovereignty which relates directly to territorial aspects of national conflict (2, above), and also to cross-border labour migration (3, above). Work on the Irish border and border region is complemented by theoretical and comparative work, particularly in relation to Europe's changing borders with EU enlargement. This strand of C-STAR's research links it with the University's interdisciplinary Centre for International Borders Research (CIBR) - see - in which geographers play leading roles (Anderson as a co-founder/Co-Director; Shuttleworth as joint editor of the CIBR Electronic Working Papers series).

C-STAR 2005


Centre for Spatial Territorial Analysis & Research

School of Geography
Queens University