I am an anthropologist who works at the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and Fellow of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. My research interests include political rituals, symbols, commemoration, public space, identity, conflict and peace building (see Orange Parades, Pluto Press 2000 and Civic identity and public space: Belfast since 1780, Manchester University Press 2019). Throughout my career I have worked as an ‘engaged anthropologist’, exploring peace building policies in divided societies looking particularly at conflict and sharing in public spaces in Northern Ireland. I teach courses that encourage students to explore how ethnography can be used as a dynamic but critical research tool.
I was Director of the Institute of Irish Studies from (2002-2016); co-Chair of the all-party Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (2016-2020); Chair of Diversity Challenges (2006-2023); and I am presently Chair of the Scottish Working Group on Processions (2022-present). Key issues on which I am presently working include Freedom of Assembly in a divided society; Paramilitarism in Northern Ireland; and the relationship between environmental politics and shared space.
Recent publications include academic papers and reports on paramilitarism, shared space and mobility in a divided city; and freedom of assembly in Northern Ireland and Scotland