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As Part of the PCRSC "Talk Series," the Center Hosted Dr. Brendan Ciarán Brown of Trinity College- Dublin

Monday, May 14, 2018

The center welcomed the Irish representative in Palestine Mr. Jonthan Conlonthe who attended Dr. Brown’s talk.

On Tuesday 8th May, 2018 Dr. Browne gave a talk to the graduate students of the Conflict Resolution program. The title of the talk was: 'Contested Identities: Northern Ireland and the Promise of Peace,' this talk is part of a graduate course on “Identity and Conflict” which uses theoretical concepts of identity to analyze cases of conflict.

In this talk, Dr. Browne asserted that 'Since the signing of the 1998 Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland (Good Friday/Belfast Agreement), Northern Ireland has become a markedly safer place in which to grow up. However, issues pertaining to contested identities, clashes over cultural symbols and the hardening of extreme positions have become a feature of the post-conflict landscape.

Dr. Browne spoke of the issue of identity formation in the 'new' Northern Ireland and highlighted how a new, younger generation are willing (or not) to accept a more hybrid identity, than their predecessors. He traced the origins of contested identities in Northern Ireland and, with reference to the Irish Language and other key examples, highlighted the problematic of 'contested identities', noting that they ought to be carefully re-imagined to consider how identity formation in conflict can move beyond rigid ethno-nationalist principles.

Dr. Browne asserted that after 20 years since the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, there remains two distinct communities in Northern Ireland. These communities share common features but continue to use contested symbols and identities to reinforce difference. Dr. Browne further noted that, in Northern Ireland with the passing of time, there has been a growing awareness of the hybridity of identity in the two separate communities, citing the Irish Language as one particular case study. Dr. Browne criticized the aspect of the peace agreement that enforced identity politics by declaring that “although hugely significant, the 1998 ’Peace’ Agreement entrenched community division”. Mandatory coalition between ‘opposing communities has proved problematic in terms of advancing political progress.  Currently, political attitudes and electoral results show that voting and opinions have polarized and social contact has, in many instances, deteriorated. The stalling of the peace process in Northern Ireland has been, in many ways, due to the entrenched identity politics that have come to define Northern Ireland. Greater acceptance of diversity and hybridity of Irish and British identity is required if a more meaningful and sustained peace in Northern Ireland is to endure.