In recent decades, societies the world over have experienced accelerated processes of social and political change, bringing individuals to the centre of political attention, with parties and elites no longer representing the homogenous interest of groups as they once did. Societies integrated through hierarchical organisational structures, core ideologies, and related belief systems were all decried to be the fact of the past. And yet, in Europe and elsewhere, we witness the growing importance cultural identities of core ethnic group are assuming in nation-state politics. Increasingly, political parties, civil society groups and social movements mobilise resident publics around what is often perceived as the interests of domestic majority publics. On the other hand, more and more states choose to provide compactly settled minority groups special opportunities to pursue their group-specific interests, whether in language training, culture-sensitive education, history of their community, and religious practices.
From this perspective, the Centre engages in comparative political analyses and works closely with stakeholders to assess how political institutions shape, frame, and change perceptions and preferences in ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse societies. The staff at the Centre continuously brings their research expertise and policy advisory experience into teaching, creating informative, dynamic, and engaging curriculum for doctoral, research taught, and undergraduate students.
The School is the leading place in the UK and Ireland for the study of the politics of Northern Ireland, with more staff engaged in research on this question than in any other third-level institution in Ireland or anywhere else. The School also contains on its staff a considerable number of specialists on deeply divided societies and state consolidation after conflict in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The Centre links together members of staff working on contemporary social and political processes in post conflict and divided societies in a comparative perspective. The members of staff furnish most of the expertise that goes into supervision of doctoral students working on comparative studies of ethnic conflict, teaching of the School's MA programme “Comparative Ethnic Conflict” and offer series of undergraduate modules on the issue area of ethnic conflict. See list of staff members with details of the research interests of the individuals listed.
The Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict cooperates closely with other departments in the faculty and across the university through the Institute for Conflict Transformation and Social Justice. The Centre has three priority development areas:
- Provide research and teaching on ethnic conflict and divided societies from a Comparative Politics perspective within the School of Politics and International Studies;
- Cooperate with research institutions in Ireland, UK, and wider Europe engaged in comparative political research of ethnic conflict and divided societies, allowing for exchange of expertise, research visits and student exchange;
- Foster exchanges with other research institutions and policymaking bodies across ethnically diverse, deeply divided and post conflict societies that are engaged in comparative politics research of ethnic conflict.