Skip to main content


Jessica Blomkvist, PhD Student (BA/MA Uppsala University, Sweden)


‘Transforming Conflict in Divided Societies: the Role of Religious Actors in Northern Ireland’

My research aims to address the role of religious actors in the transformation of conflicts with a religious dimension. Although the study will focus on Northern Ireland as a case study, parallels will also be drawn to conflicts with comparable societal dynamics worldwide.

The thesis will primarily analyse third sector organisations with a religious ethos who aim to build intercommunity/interdenominational relations in Northern Ireland. Not only is the aim of the research to answer the broad question of under what circumstances religious actors are able/unable to assist in peacebuilding processes in societies divided along religious lines, but also how and under what circumstances do these actors get ‘off the ground’ and what form does their peacebuilding work actually take? More specifically, the study will be looking at how religious actors involved in peacebuilding activities in Northern Ireland relate to the broader political and peacebuilding environment, how they relate to and view the conflict and how they relate to the official churches as well as their constituencies/communities. The study will also examine what the religious actors’ motivations are for engagement in conflict transformation, what influence the political environment has had on that engagement as well as the impact of (lack of) resources and means at their disposal. In addition, the study will analyse how religious actors view the role of religion, as well as religious actors, in the conflict and the peace process.

Areas of Research

My primary research interests include the politics of religion in divided societies; the role of religious actors in conflict and peacebuilding; the resolution and transformation of intrastate conflicts; reconciliation processes in deeply divided societies; as well as the role of the voluntary/community/third sector in the building of peace in societies coming out of conflict.

Supervisors: Professor Brian Walker and Dr Neophytos Loizides