Marta Kempny
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Polish spaces in a divided city
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Polish people currently form the largest ethnic minority in Northern Ireland. Sectarian divides within Northern Irish society have affected how Poles have felt included and excluded in local communities. The focus of this chapter is on perceptions of inclusion and exclusion among Polish migrants in Belfast. It critically examines migrants’ constructions of space in Belfast, which is a city entrenched with social divisions, along lines of religion, ethnicity and class. The chapter draws on longitudinal interviews with fifteen Poles who have lived in Belfast for a decade in Protestant, Catholic and mixed areas of the city. Particular attention is paid to how the Polish migrants make sense of spaces ‘in between’, which include streets, alleyways, sidewalks, bus stops, parks and open spaces. The chapter sheds light on the everyday experiences of exclusion and inclusion and how the perceptions of Polish settlers have shifted over time. It also addresses the reactions of interviewees to changes in social and political attitudes in the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote.

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