Conflict and Transformation in Northern Ireland
M/W 10:00-11:50
Knight Law School 282


Prof. Shaul Cohen
Condon 107G Tel 6-4500
Office hours Thursday 2-3 aba


This course will use Northern Ireland as a primary case to focus on social conflict, territorial disputes, and options for moving toward political accommodations.  It will operate in a mixed lecture/seminar format, and touch upon a range of issues that reflect the broad impact of zero sum conflicts, including sectarian dynamics in the work place, the family, the educational system, government, popular culture, and "the street."  It will explore structural elements that are part of the Catholic-Protestant/Republican-Nationalist-Unionist-Loyalist struggle, as well as the narratives that stem from and contribute to the encompassing dispute.  In lecture and discussion we will move among several different scales as we incorporate the experience of the individual, the community, and the nation(s) and attempt to identify strategies that help mitigate or transform the zero sum situation that has characterized much of Northern Ireland for generations.


Regular attendance and participation in discussions is essential for the success of the course.  Reading material should be prepared in advance of our meetings.  You will be graded on a quiz demonstrating familiarity with Northern Ireland's parties and players for 10% of the final grade, a "position paper," an in-class negotiation (as part of a working group) weeks 9 and 10 of the term,  and a final summary.  Each of these will be worth 30% of the grade.  Please note - ATTENDANCE AT AN EVENING/NIGHT SESSION WEDNESDAY OF WEEK 10 IS MANDATORY!  I am happy to accommodate students with special-ed needs, please contact me at the beginning of the term to make the necessary arrangements.

Much of our reading material has been collated on the CAIN website (Conflict Archive on the INternet) which can be found at , and has an enormous collection of original and secondary sources relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland.  Additional readings will be posted on Blackboard, and we will have a bunch of stuff in our Facebook group CRES N Ireland 2013 at!/groups/254043774720048/ .  You must also read the New York Times, for which you can get a cheap M-F delivery subscription (I will provide you with ordering info) or you can read it online.  For an ongoing discussion of current events in Northern Ireland, plus commentary on various bits and pieces, you should browse the Slugger O'Toole blog regularly.

Week 1
Read John Darby's introduction to the conflict on the CAIN website, .  Darby is a former director of INCORE, the center for conflict resolution at the University of Ulster - Magee in Derry/Londonderry.

Week 2
Read Claire Mitchell's 2003 "Protestant Identification and Political Change in Northern Ireland,"  Ethnic and Racial Studies 26(4):612-631, and her 2005 piece  "Catholicism and the Construction of Communal Identity in Northern Ireland" in Irish Journal of Sociology 14(1):110-130.

Week 3
MLK Day Monday, no class.  Read Peter Shirlow's 2003 "Ethno-sectarianism and the Reproduction of Fear in Belfast" in Capital and Class #80:77-93, Nagle's "Divided Belfast," and Eureka StreetPlease note, Eureka Street will only be available after Monday of this week.

Week 4
Terms Test on Monday! 
Read Fealty et al.'s 2003 A Long Peace:  The Future of Unionism in Northern Ireland (not nearly as long as it looks!), and Graham and Shirlow, "An Elusive Agenda".

Week 5
 Read Sheena McGrellis' "Pure and bitter spaces:  Gender, identity and territory in Northern Irish youth transitions," in Gender and Education 17(5), Harland's "Violent Youth Culture in Northern Ireland in Youth & Society 43(2):414-432, and Gray & Neil's "Creating A Shared Society in Nothern Ireland:  Why We Need to Focus on Gender Equality" in Youth & Society 43(2):468-487.

Week 6
Class visit by Professor Brendan Murtagh, Queens University, Belfast, Readings TBA and  Graham & Nash 2006 "A Shared Future:  Territoriality, Pluralism, and Public Policy in Northern Ireland," Political Geography 25:253-278.

Week 7 
Read Graham & Whelan, "The legacies of the dead:  Commemorating the Troubles in Northern Ireland" and Cohen's "Winning while losing:  The Apprentice Boys of Derry walk their beat" in Political Geography 26(8).  Position/Character studies due on Monday!

Week 8
Douglas, "The politics of accommodation, social change, and conflict resolution in Northern Ireland," Political Geography 17(2): 209-229, 1998.

Week 9

Week 10
 Negotiations continue

Plus Friday Debrief

Finals Week
Turn in your negotiation summary electronically and that's it!