The Imagination of the Other in a (Post-) Sectarian Society: Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Divided City of Belfast

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Abstract

This paper explores the ways a salient sectarian community division in Northern Ireland is framing the imagination of newcomers, of the different settled communities and also shapes the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees in Belfast. We examine the dominant ethno-national Christian communities and how their actions define the social-spatial landscape of manoeuvring everyday life in Northern Ireland for Others. We argue all newcomers are affected by sectarianism in Northern Ireland, adding a further layer to everyday and institutional racism prevalent in different parts of the UK and elsewhere.
First, we discuss the triangle of nation, gender and ethnicity, also in the context of Northern Ireland and problematise that in a society where two adversary communities exist the Other is positioned differently to other more cohesive national societies. This complication impacts the outlook on what we mean when we talk about the imagination of the Other, as the persistence of binary communities shapes the way local civil society is looking after vulnerable newcomers, e.g. asylum seekers and refugees. Before we turn here to the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Northern Ireland, we contextualise the historical situation of newcomers and the socio-spatial landscape of the city of Belfast. That said, thirdly, we discuss the role of NGO’s and civil support organisations in Belfast while contrasting these views with the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees. We do so, by referring to empirical material drawn from a study we did in 2016, on the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees with living in Northern Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Inclusion
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Sectarian conflict
  • Sectarian Omnipresence
  • Belfast
  • Gender and intersectionality
  • asylum seekers
  • refugees
  • Post conflict society

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