“Where There Is Dialogue, There Is Hope”: Nation, Gender and Transversal Dialogue in Belfast, Northern Ireland

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Abstract

This paper is a study of women in Belfast in two working-class ethno-national communities: Falls (Catholic/Nationalist/Republican) and Shankill (Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist). Theories of gendered nationalism and transversalism are used to analyze the material from a qualitative interview study. The study focuses on intersections of gender and nation: women’s identity as biological, cultural and national mothers; and the political consequences of this gendered national identity. The purpose is to understand how a peace-building transversal dialogue is encouraged and discouraged by the way women make sense of these intersections of gender and nation. This study concludes that women’s subordinate position in the public sphere is a direct consequence of being symbolically constructed, within nationalism, as mothers belonging to the private sphere. Women are in both communities considered to be mothers and caretakers first and foremost. Not only does this lead to inequality for women, it also reinforces the conflict that exists between the two communities. Transversal dialogue, through rooting and shifting, is studied as a method to undermine this by building peace and improving gender equality. The study indicates that this requires a flexibility and willingness to root and shift; sharing compatible goals and values; and recognizing and respecting differences of fellow participants.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherLund University; Roskilde University
Number of pages71
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameWorking Paper Series Contested Aministrations
No.4

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science

Keywords

  • nation
  • gender
  • transversal dialogue
  • Northern Ireland
  • peace-building

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