The University of Ulster’s Centre for Media Research and Edge Hill University have organised a Media, Culture and Post-Conflict Society symposium to be held on the Belfast Campus on Friday 12 September 2014 at 10.00am.
Northern Ireland is rapidly losing the status of being a post-conflict society, as well as its reputation as a model of conflict resolution. The Community Relations Council’s Peace Monitoring Report (2014) points to deepening sectarian division and growing mistrust and the evidence for this palpable.
In recent times there have been street protests fuelled by working class unionist alienation and sporadic violence from dissident republicans. The promised peace dividend has failed to materialise and in its place is austerity imposed from above, which poses the danger of already antagonist communities forced to compete for limited and diminishing resources. Such straitened times are proving fertile ground, not only for sectarianism, but racism also, with Northern Ireland’s growing immigrant communities suffering a dramatic rise in the incidence of hate crimes. Meanwhile devolution has made local politicians responsible for legislation on abortion and same-sex marriage, revealing the depth of dispute that exists between conservative and liberal forces in the region. It seems that just as old antagonisms diehard, new battle-lines are emerging in the ‘new’ Northern Ireland.
The largely ineffective political system centred on an assembly that has little power and which is constructed to recognise yet not mediate nor resolve sectarianism, has institutionalized division and difference while deliberately marginalizing moderating voices of opposition. This has become central to the construction of a fractured, factionalized civil society dominated by political agendas that, within the construct of the Peace Process, has produced an ossifying intellectual stagnation. Those critical of the divisive outplaying of the 1998 agreement, in many sectors of political and intellectual life, have become seen as “Cassandra” figures.
It is within this context that the symposium considers questions of representation, culture and identity. These concepts were central to the conflict in Northern Ireland’s past. They were integral to the peace process and remain at the centre of political discourse in the region today. How have representation, culture and identity been applied and contested in Northern Ireland? And how might we most usefully think about and configure them today and for the future?
The order of the day is as follows:
10.00 – 10-30 Introductions
Dr Paddy Hoey and Dr Stephen Baker
10.30 – 12.00 First session
Dr Gareth Mulvenna (Queen’s University Belfast): Representations of the Protestant working class and loyalist community in social media since the ‘Flag protests’ of 2012
Dr Malachi O’Doherty (freelance journalist and author): The evolution of the citizen correspondent
Paddy Hoey (Edge Hill University): Northern Ireland, popular culture and common identity
12.30 – 02.00 second session
Goretti Horgan (University of Ulster): Northern Ireland’s ‘moral regime’ and women’s rights
Dr Stephen Baker (University of Ulster): Representing race in Northern Ireland
Dr Aaron Edwards (Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst): Progressive loyalism and conflict transformation: the unfinished business of the peace process
Tea and coffee
2.30 – 4.00 final session
Dr Robert Porter (University of Ulster) and Dr Daniel Jewesbury (University of Ulster): Inventing Spave and Place in the Post-Conflict City
Dr Caroline Magennis (University of Salford): The Past and Possibility in Twenty-First Century Northern Irish Fiction
Pauline Hadaway (independent arts consultant): The politics of cultural memory
If you would like to attend or want further information, contact Stephen Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org