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    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of:
- Rituals, symbols and group identity
- Commemoration and memory
- The anthropology of Ireland
- Conflict transformation
- Political violence
- Anthropology and policy


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Statement

Research Interests
Political anthropology; public ritual; public order and policing; symbolism; ethnicity; nationalism and group identity; research methods; anthropology and public policy; Irish history; Orangeism, use of history and invention of tradition; the mass media; social theory.


My research over 25 years has examined the nature of intergroup conflict on the symbolic landscape. It has particularly looked at the role played by symbols and rituals during the conflict and peace in Northern Ireland. It has been avowedly interdisciplinary, published in journals and books of anthropology, history, geography, social psychology, law, Irish studies and conflict studies. The work has been distinguished by a high level of public engagement and policy impact.


The research publications can be placed within four distinguishable interdisciplinary themes:


Parades and Human Rights: Based on substantive ethnographic and historical research, published in the monograph Orange Parades (Bryan, 2000) and seven high pofile published reports (see Bryan, Dunn and Fraser 1995, Jarman and Bryan 1996; Bryan and Jarman 1998, 1999, 2000; Bryan, Jarman, Caleyron and de Rosa 1998 and Hamilton Jarman and Bryan 2002) this body of work had significant impact on parade disputes, the setting up of the Parades Commission and the work of the NI Human Rights Commission. This was recognised in the Secretary of States autobiogrphy (Mowlam 2000: xvii, 99) and explained in 'Beyond the Academy' (Jarman and Bryan, 2015) and 'Parading Through the Peace Process' (Bryan and Jarman, 2017). For academic analysis see journal articles in Anthropology in Action (2006) and the International Journal of Minority and Group Rights (1997). For legal implications and dispute management see articles in the Chicago Journal of International Law (2005), with Hamilton in the Ohio Journal on Dispute Resolution (2006) and with O'Kelly in Irish Political Studies (2007). St Patrick's Day in Belfast was also the subject of policy report (IIS, 2006) and an edited collection (with Skinner, 2015)


Flags and the Symbolic Landscape: Built around funding from the ESRC and the Northern Ireland Government this research examined the use of flags on government buildings and, in paticular, the popular flying of flags on 'street furniture' in Norhern Ireland. The findings and policy implications appear in a series of reports published by Institute of Irish Studies and the Senator Geroge J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace Security and Justice (see Bryan and Gillespie 2005; Bryan and Stevenson 2009; Bryan, Gillespie, Stevenson and Bell 2010; Bryan and Pehrson 2012; Nolan, Bryan, Dwyer, Hayward, Radford, Shirlow 2014; Nolan and Bryan 2016). The research is published in SAIS Review of International Affairs (Bryan and McIntish 2005), Building Material (Bryan and Gillespie 2005), Review of Irish Studies in Europe (Bryan 2018) and the impact methodology in Anthropology in Action (2015). For more ethnographic discussions see Bryan and Stevenson (2009and Bryan (2007).


Belfast and Shared Space: This research explores the impact of symbols and ritual on people in Northern Ireland, on the city of Belfast and on the peace process. The research is drawn from 3 ESRC research projects undertaken with colleagues from St Andrews University, Limerick University, Manchester University, the Open University and Lancaster University. The work on Belfast is to be published in a monogaph, Civic Identity and Public Space in Belfast (Bryan, Connolly and Nagle, 2019, MUP) and has been published in journal articles Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology (Bryan 2015) and in City (Komarova and Byan 2014) and in a series of book chapters such as Wounded Cities (ed. Schneider and Susser, 2003), Belfast 400 (ed. Connolly, 2012) and Ethnographies of Movement (ed. Komerova and Svasek, 2018). The most recent ESRC project on mobility in Belfast completed in 2018 has results in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers and Mobilites (2018 with Huck, Whyatt, Dixon, Sturgeon Davis and Jarman).


Political Violence and Commemoration: Cutting across the themes above is the role of political violence and commemoration. A critique of the use of the terms 'terorism' published in the journal Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression (Bryan, Kelly, Templer 2011) was followed by a chapter in the Routledge text book Contemporary Debates on Terrorism (ed. Jackson and Sinclair, 2012, reprinted 2018). The parades work has developed into a long term debate with colleagues in contemporary Irish history about the role of commemoration and social remembering. This work was enhanced by 2 AHRC grants with Maie Coleman but has appeared in a series of Journal articles (New Hibernia Review, 2013) and book chapters exploring the Boyne and the Somme (Bryan 2011, 2014) and laterly looking at the role of the historian in commemorative practice (Bryan, 2016).



International Summer School     

ANT1007 Us and them: Why do we have in-groups and out-groups? (convenor)

ANT 1006 Introduction to Northern Ireland: History Politics and Anthropology (Convenor)

ANT2038 Hanging out on Street Corners: Public and Applied Anthropology (convenor)

ANT 3135 Ireland and Britain: People Identity Nations (convenor)                             

ANT 7053 Specialisation - Conflict                            

ANT 7053 Specialisation - The Anthropology of Ireland: Conflict and Continuity                                   

IRS 7011 Belfast: Place, Identity and Memory in a Contested City

MHY 7092 History and its Audiences: methods and theories

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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