Director of Research - Prof Liam O'Dowd
The research focus of the Cluster embraces a range of social divisions and the social conflicts associated with them including those based on gender, religion, age, ethno-national identity, political affiliation, ethno-national conflict, class, urban conflicts, state borders, and post-conflict transformations. Members’ current research projects include: divided cities in contested states, ethno-religious conflict, conflict management and transformation, conflict and social work, religion and identity, spatial divisions and borders, gender, sexuality, children and childhood in divided societies, anti-Semitism, youth identity and violence and the conflicts generated by nationalism, unionism and imperialism.
The cluster prioritises research collaboration among members and between the cluster and other researchers in Queen’s and elsewhere. It also works to provide a supportive environment for PhD research and a forum for the individual research interests of members.
James Anderson (Geography/Sociology)
Ian Shuttleworth (Geography- ex officio)
Tom Wilson (Honorary Visiting Professor)
Katy Radford (ex-officio)
Frances King (research affiliate)
Staff members have a strong record of research funding from the ESRC, EU Framework Projects and Peace grants, Northern Ireland government, local charitable organisations, the voluntary sector, and small seed grants from Nuffield and the British Academy.
In April 2007, an ESRC Large Grant was awarded for a project entitled Conflict in Cities in the Contested States: Everyday Life and Possibilities of Transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided Cities (Link to list of grants). Led by Wendy Pullan, Architecture, Cambridge; the project involves Cambridge, Exeter and Queen’s. Led by Liam O’Dowd at Queen’s and James Anderson (Emeritus Prof, Geography), Madeleine Leonard, Lisa Smyth and Katy Hayward as primary research partners with Ian Shuttleworth (Geography). The project began on 1 October 2007 and Milena Komarova has served as research associate on the project since the beginning (1 November 2007) as well as Martina McKnight since 2008. The research modules in the current year (Year 4 of the Project) include: ‘Belfast: the Religious City’ and Conflict Management and Transformation.
Since April 2007, Véronique Altglas holds an ESRC grant which allows her to conduct a comparative research in France, Britain, Israel and Brazil on the transnationalisation of religions.
International Collaborative Projects
Currently, the main research project in the Cluster is an ESRC Large Grant: Conflict in Cities and the Contested State: Everyday Life and Possibilities of Transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided Cities, www.conflictincities.org The Project is sponsoring a major international conference on Urban Conflicts in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, 19-21 May 2011. www.qub.ac.uk/sites/UrbanConflictsConference/ An international symposium on Religion, Violence and the City is being planned for 1-2 December 2011.
The other major collaborative project in the Cluster centres on the Centre for International Borders Research (CIBR) www.qub.ac.uk/cibr . This is an inter-disciplinary centre founded in 2000, linking Sociology, Geography , Politics and Anthropology. Within the centre, Cluster members Hayward, O’Dowd and Anderson [Geography & Sociology] collaborate with Professor H.Donnan (Anthropology), Dr Cathal McCall (Politics) and Professor Thomas Wilson (Anthropology, Binghamton University, NY – currently a visiting professor at CIBR). CIBR also attracts a steady flow of visiting interns from Europe who spend a number of months studying at Queen’s and it also collaborates with the Association of Borderland Scholars (largely based in North America) in producing an annual Border Studies bibliography.
Links with Other Research Clusters in QUB
The Cluster is developing close collaborative links with the Institute of Spatial and Environmental Planning in the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering; it also has links with Society, Space and Culture in the School of Geography, with Irish Studies in the School of History and Anthropology and with Clusters in the School of Politics.
Individual Staff Research Projects
Members are also engaged in a variety of related individual projects related the focus of the Cluster: the sociology of childhood in divided societies (Madeleine Leonard), social work and social conflict in Northern Ireland (Jim Campbell), nationalism, conflict transformation and the EU (Katy Hayward), gender and reproduction, gendered national/cultural identities, moral and feminist politics (Lisa Smyth), violence, identity, masculinity, youth justice and imprisonment (Michelle Butler); globalisation of religion, cultural and religious diversity in France and Britain and anti-semitism (Veronique Altglas) and the sociology of intellectuals (Liam O’Dowd) (See individual web pages for fuller information)
‘Confrontations – Racism, Antisemitism and Sectarianism’ conference, organised by Dr Véronique Altglas and Dr Matthew Wood: On 2-3 September 2010, the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work hosted the mid-term conference of the European Sociological Association’s Research Network on Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism. Over thirty scholars from across Europe presented papers on historical and contemporary issues as diverse as the distinctive nature of Islamophobia, new experiences of antisemitism, and debates surrounding social integration.
‘Growing up in Divided Societies’ conference, organised by Prof. Madeleine Leonard and Dr Martina McKnight, Queen’s University, Belfast and Dr. Spyros Spyrou, European University Cyprus and facilitated by The Research Forum for the Child at Queen’s University Belfast, the Center for the Study of Childhood and Adolescence in Cyprus, and the International Childhood and Youth Research Network. This multi-disciplinary conference which brought together over seventy scholars from Europe, North America and Australia was held in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work on 10-11 June 2010. The focus of the conference was on the experiences and perceptions of children growing up in ethnically and politically divided societies. While a number of papers addressed the situation in Northern Ireland and Cyprus, interesting insights were also provided on Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Palestine and Turkey. A selection of papers from the conference will be included in a special issue of the Journal of Sociology and Social Policy scheduled for publication in November 2011.
The Conflict in Cities Research Team will be offering a Third Year Undergraduate Optional Course entitled: City Life: Diversity and Divisions in Semester Two, 2012.
Postgraduate Members and thier Research Topics
The PhD work of several postgraduate members focuses on divided cities through their affiliation to the Conflict in Cities Research Project. These include:
Brendan Browne is a PhD candidate whose research is focusing on the role of commemorative events in conflicted cities. Adopting an international comparative approach and using common ethnographic methods, he is investigating the social construction of two key nationalist events at home and abroad, namely the Easter 1916 commemoration in West Belfast and Nakba Day in Ramallah.
Giulia Carabelli has been focusing her researches on former Yugoslavia. She is currently completing her PhD as part of the Conflict in Cities and the Contested State project and concentrating on the process of reconstruction of the city of Mostar (BiH).
Monika Halkort is researching Tripoli (Lebanon). Her thesis deals with the reconstruction of the Nahr el Bared refugee camp – in particular the role of property in constituting the political subjectivities of Palestinians.
Annie Kane-Horrigan is researching South Belfast residents' expressions of identity and experiences with borders within an ostensibly conflict-free and 'cosmopolitan' part of the city. She is examining how this relates to Belfast's post-conflict narrative.
Linda Rootamm's PhD research fits into the context of urban sociology and focuses on the narratives of 'East' Berliners on their life experiences in the reunified Berlin. More specifically she studies the relationship between their social environments and networks, and their changing physical movement in the city.
Stephanie Smith’s research explores connections in a divided city and will provide a network analysis of the communication patterns of cross-community youth leaders in North Belfast. Her PhD research will include an investigation into the relational aspects of the social structure in which youth work is taking place; an evaluation of the patterns of communication among youth leaders; and an assessment of whether there is a relationship between the structure and the attributes of youth leaders. This research aims to contribute to our understanding of communication among cross-community programmes at a leadership level and will give valuable insight into cross-community youth work within a setting of urban conflict.
PhD work related to other Cluster Themes
David Jason Brannigan works on Work and Identity: A generational analysis of the impact of de-industrialisation and globalisation on male Protestant working class identity in Belfast.
Ivo Damkat has conducted research on the European Peace Programmes and the implementation and sustainability of cross border co-operation in Ireland. He is currently undertaking his PhD research in the understanding of cross border co-operation among key stakeholders from the private, public and civil society organisations. His main interest is in the changing role of borders in the light of European integration, (economic) globalisation and post modernism.
Suzanne Hammad works on The Salience of Place in Popular Resistance: A Case Study of the Contested Palestinian Village of Bilin.
Ciaran Hughes researches Ethno-Sectarian Segregation and Shared Space Policies in Belfast: The role of Social Capital Theory and the Voluntary and Community Sector in PeaceBuilding.
Peter Johnson studies Alcohol, Adolescents and Adults
Romana Khaoury has conducted research on migration and racism issues especially in relation to the north of Ireland. Her research draws on the frameworks of Critical Race Theory, including Critical Whiteness Studies. She is currently examining how multiple identities shape educational experience.
Richie Montague is currently doing PhD research on racist hate crime in Belfast. His academic background is in Sociology and International Politics. Richie is interested in aspects of socially constructed identities and their linkage with division and conflict; and how we may perceive facets of identity construction conducive to expressions of hatred towards 'otherness'.
Cluster Discussion Programme (2010-2011)