Women’s Political Visualisation of Post-Conflict Belfast: Community-Led Participatory Photography as a Means Of Highlighting Socio-Economic Issues Affecting Interface Areas of the City

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Abstract

In late 2014, a group of women who live in the predominantly Protestant-Unionist-Loyalist Tigers Bay and a community worker from the predominantly Catholic-Nationalist-Republican New Lodge interface areas of North Belfast worked with eachother to offer visual representations of their localities as a means of highlighting socioeconomic issues affecting both regions of the post-conflict city. This visualisation took the form of a photobook ‘Women’s Vision from Across the Barricades’ (2015) containing images and text taken and co-edited by the participants.

The contemporary post-conflict context represents a wider socio-political culture of promoting external investment and economic growth in the city of Belfast, oftenrepresented by the redevelopment of the Titanic Quarter; yet little direct dividendshave been felt or experienced by communities most affected by the conflict (Doyle and McAreavey 2014; Rallings 2014). O’Dowd and Komarova (2013, 528) suggest that Belfast is often viewed as an exemplar ‘contested city’. In addition, they outline two additional emergent ideological framings of the city: the ‘new capitalist’ (ibid., 529) and ‘shared city’ narratives (ibid., 536). This article will consider this project in relation to these narratives. It will argue that the women’s visual engagement with their locality demonstrates that gendered political memory remains embedded within the physical structures of interface areas of the city. Overall, it will argue that this project is an example of grassroots activism led by women that contributes to the ongoing process of reconciliation by generating shared socio-economic objectives alongside challenging the exclusion of women from local power structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages13
JournalGlencree Journal 2021 - Dealing with the Legacy of Conflict in Northern Ireland through Engagement and Dialogue
Volume1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021

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