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- PublicationThe moral boundaries of the nation : nation, state and boundaries in the Southern Irish border countiesThis article argues that nationalism is more varied in the way that it constructs its boundaries than contemporary scholarship suggests. In an interdisciplinary, multistranded qualitative study of ethno-national identity on the Southern side of the Irish border, it shows the moral repertoires that qualify, conflict with, and on occasion replace, territorial-ethnic and state-centred aspects of national identity. It refocuses attention on the cultural and normative content of imagined national communities, and the different ways in which general norms function in particular communal contexts. It casts a new light on Southern attitudes to Irish unity. More generally, it suggests that a form of moral nationalism is possible, distinct from the forms more typically discussed in the literature: ethnic, civic, trans nationalism or even banal nationalism.
- PublicationBorders, states and nations. Contested boundaries and national identities in the Irish border areaMuch scholarly writing on states and state boundaries assumes that these form or at least condition the bounds of identity. The 'institutionalisation' process is said to be one where the boundaries of the state become the boundaries of everyday life and imagined community. In an interdisciplinary, multi-stranded qualitative research on the Irish border, no such process of institutionalization was found. Rather the state border was perceived as a fluctuating area of danger and economic opportunity. To the extent that it was perceived to impact at all on identity, it was on the moral and cultural content of identity rather than its national form, on the mode in which national and ethno-religious categories were lived rather than on those categories themselves.
- PublicationThe nature of meaning of identity in Northern Ireland after the Belfast Good Friday AgreementSocial identification processes can be seen as the basis of the conflict in Northern Ireland. During the conflict it can be argued that preferred social and political identities became increasingly oppositional and entrenched. This paper reviews this evidence using population level studies. It also explores trends in preferred identities since the 1998 Agreement as well as examining the patterns of preferred identity across generations with particular attention being paid to the responses of young people. In an attempt to elucidate the meaning of these identities, a series of inter-related qualitative studies that have examined constructions of national, political and religious identification are reported. These suggest a fluidity, rather than entrenchment, in post-Agreement respondents and point to the variability and complexity of identity phenomena in Northern Ireland.
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