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.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.