Skip to main content

Liam O'Dowd

Photo of Liam O'Dowd

BA,MA (NUI), PhD (Southern Illinois).     
Professor of Sociology
Room 1.18, 3 College Park East
Ext.3218; Email:

My research interests have been framed by political sociology, urban sociology, political economy,  and by inter-disciplinary approaches in the social sciences approached from a sociological vantage point.  I have maintained a continuing interest in the sociology of contemporary Ireland and the political economy of the Northern Ireland conflict in particular.  A founder member of the Sociological Association of Ireland in 1973, I have also served as chairman of the National Committee for Economics and Social Sciences of the Royal Irish Academy (1992-1996).  I have been Director of the Centre for International Borders Research (CIBR) at Queen’s since 2000, a member of the board of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh since 1999 and Director of Research for the Social Divisions and Conflict research cluster in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work since 2006.

Teaching Interests

Urban Sociology, Sociology of Contemporary Ireland, the Northern Ireland Conflict and Sociology of Development.


Over the past decade,  my research has been concentrated in three areas.  Firstly, I am a co-investigator on a five year project (2007-2012) funded by an ESRC Large Grant, entitled 'Conflict in cities and the contested state: everyday life and possibilities of transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and other divided cities'. The project is multi-disciplinary and links three universities, Cambridge (Architecture –lead partner), Exeter (political science) and Queen’s.  I lead the Queen's project team of five sociologists and two geographers with Professor Emeritus James Anderson.  The project has four affiliated PhD students at Queen's  (

Secondly, I have an ongoing interest in state borders and border regions in Ireland and the European Union generally. This has been informed by two research projects: an EU Sixth Framework  Research Project (EUDimensions) [2006-2009] and ‘Mapping frontiers: plotting pathways: routes to co-operation on a divided island’ - on cross-border relationships in Ireland – an inter-disciplinary project jointly coordinated with Professor John Coakley, University College Dublin. Thirdly, I continue to be interested in the political sociology of intellectuals and the ideologies of imperialism, British and Irish nationalism and republicanism.

Selected Recent Publications

Crossing the Border: New Relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Dublin: Irish Academic Press, (joint editor with John Coakley), Dublin: Irish Academic Press,  2007, pp.339.

New Borders for a New Europe, London: Frank Cass, 2003(co-editor with J.Anderson and T.Wilson), pp.208.

Journal Articles

"Contesting Territorial Fixity?: A Case Study of Regeneration in Belfast" Urban Studies 

Vol. 48 (10), 2011,  pp. 2013-2028 (with Milena Komarova).

"Promoting Civil Society Across the Borders of the EU Neighbourhood: Debates, Constraints and Opportunities" Geopolitics Vol. 16 (1), 2011,  pp.176-192 (with Bohdana Dimitrovova)

"From a 'borderless world' to a 'world of borders':' bringing history back in'" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space Vol. 28 (3), 2010, pp. 1031-1050. 

"Escaping the Cage of Ethno-National Conflict in Northern Ireland: The Importance of Transnational Networks" Ethnopolitics  Vol. 7 (1), 2008, pp.81-100 (with Cathal McCall)

Special Issue on Irish Borders, Political Geography 26 (8),  2007, pp.  877-980 (joint editor/contributor with J.Coakley). 


‘Contested States, Frontiers and Cities’ in T.M.Wilson and H.Donnan (eds), Blackwell Companion to Border Studies, London: Blackwell, 2012, forthcoming.

‘Public Intellectuals and the “Crisis”: Accountability, Democracy and Market Fundamentalism’ in M.Corcoran (ed.) Public Intellectuals and the Crisis, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 2012, forthcoming.

‘Debating the Agreement: Beyond a Communalist Dynamic‘, in R. Taylor (ed)  Consociational Theory: McGarry and O’Leary and the Northern Ireland Conflict, London:  Routledge, 2009, pp. 295-308.

'Republicanism and Unionism: Cultures and Ideologies' in J.Cleary and C.Connolly (eds) The Cambridge Companion to Irish Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp.78-95.



Centre for International Borders Research:;

EU Dimensions Research project:

Conflict in Cities and the Contested State:;

Social Divisions, Social Conflict Research Cluster