If walls could talk

Northern Ireland is regarded as one of the most successful 'post conflict' societies in the world. The reimaging of Belfast as a 'post conflict' city tends to gloss over these persistent divisions. This book provides a thought provoking and comprehensive account of teenagers' perceptions and experiences of the physical and symbolic divisions that exist in 'post conflict' Belfast. Despite Northern Ireland's new status as one of the most successful examples of the resolution of what was once seen as an intractable conflict, the peace walls which separate Protestant and Catholic areas remain in place. The book examines the micro-geographies of young people and draws attention to the social practices, discourses and networks that directly or indirectly (re)shape how they make sense of and negotiate life in Belfast. It focuses is on the physical landscape enclosing interface areas and the impact that it has on the perceptions and actions of young people living in these areas. The book explores how physical divisions are perceived and experienced by young people who live in interface areas and how they view the architecture of division. It pays attention to the impact of place on teenagers' social relations within and between the localities in which they reside. The city centre of Belfast epitomises the city's status as a 'post conflict' city. A recurring argument is that identity does not exist 'out there'. The book shows how social relationships are inherently spatial and how identities are influenced by place and impact on it.

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A segregated city
Peter Shirlow

M1426 - COULTER TEXT.qxp:GRAHAM Q7 17/7/08 08:01 Page 73 4 Belfast: a segregated city Peter Shirlow ‘Belfast is ready for the party to begin’ The headline above, provided by the New York Times journalist Stuart Emmrich,1 airs the view that all is well in Belfast and that it is high time, after the traumas of three decades of conflict, that everyone in the city let their hair down. This optimism echoes a common internal and external view of the positive changes that have occurred in Northern Ireland since the advent of the paramilitary cease-fires of 1994

in Northern Ireland after the troubles
An emplaced approach
Madeleine Leonard

One of the core arguments of this book is that place matters and that identities, while dynamic and multi-dimensional, are at least partly rooted in place. In line with this argument, it is important to briefly outline the segregated nature of housing and education in Belfast and the likely impact of this on young people who grow up in interface areas. Providing a detailed

in Teens and territory in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
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Madeleine Leonard

There is always a threat of returning to the past of violence, hatred and depression which still engulf the city. Belfast I believe will never escape its history which is known worldwide. There is still a threat when someone of a Catholic origin enters an area of Protestant majority. That person, I

in Teens and territory in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
Madeleine Leonard

so, the social world is never effortlessly reproduced. The purpose of the research was to capture young people’s ‘ways of seeing’ the urban landscape in Belfast (Matthews, 1995 ), and the overarching question was to ascertain the extent to which they viewed and experienced Belfast as a shared or divided city. According to Travlou ( 2003 : 7), ‘older children

in Teens and territory in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
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Moving beyond segregated localities
Madeleine Leonard

–7) The capacity to live with difference is, in my view, the coming question of the 21st century.’ (Hall, 1992 : 278) The core purpose of this book is to understand and illuminate how teenagers growing up in Belfast construct, produce, perceive and experience place. Rather than an inert, opaque backdrop to daily interaction, place is considered as vital to creating

in Teens and territory in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
Everyday life in interface areas
Madeleine Leonard

In the previous chapter the focus was on the material forms of the divided landscapes of Belfast and young people’s perceptions of these territorial markers. This chapter turns attention to the impact of place on teenagers’ social relations within and between the localities in which they reside. The various physical manifestations of territory outlined in the previous

in Teens and territory in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
Emmet O’Connor

3 British Labour, Belfast and home rule, 1900–14 Emmet O’Connor When the Union Jack stands for Home Rule, as it shortly will do, no part of the United Kingdom will be more proud of it than Ireland. Reynold’s Newspaper, 11 June 19111 The British Labour Party (BLP) was the most successful left-wing party in Ireland until its Irish career was terminated by the third home rule crisis, an experience so bruising that, a century on, the party was still debating whether it should again become active in Ireland. During the 1970s, the fortunes of the party in Belfast, and

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
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Same city but a different place?
Madeleine Leonard

This chapter moves the focus from the localities of the previous two chapters to city-centre space. Visually, the city centre of Belfast epitomises the city’s status as a ‘post conflict’ city. As O’Dowd and Komarova ( 2013 : 527) point out, ‘the recasting of Belfast as a new capitalist city is frequently represented not just as a means of moving beyond violent conflict

in Teens and territory in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast
Teens’ perceptions and experiences of peace walls, flags and murals
Madeleine Leonard

within specific environments. Within local landscapes, individuals get a sense of who they are and where they belong. As Preston ( 2003 : xvi) puts it, ‘the physical spaces around us are deeply woven into the fabric of who we are’. The previous chapter outlined how housing and education policies produced and perpetuated divisions in Belfast, creating a lasting legacy of residential segregation in interface areas. In this chapter

in Teens and territory in ‘post-conflict’ Belfast