Women’s Political Visualisation of Post-conflict Belfast

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Jolene Mairs Dyer, Ulster University, Northern Ireland, UK


    O’Dowd and Komarova (2013: 528) outline difficulties encountered when ‘theorising’ the city. Belfast, in Northern Ireland, they suggest, has been viewed as exemplar ‘conflict’ or ‘contested’ city, or one that it is ‘divided by deep-rooted ethno-national conflict.’ In late 2014, a group of women who live in the predominantly Protestant Tiger’s Bay and predominantly Catholic New Lodge ‘interface’ areas of North Belfast, worked cooperatively to produce a visual representation of their localities as a means of highlighting political issues affecting the post-conflict city. This visualisation took the form of a photobook containing images taken and edited by the women themselves. This paper offers an analysis of this work in relation to O’Dowd and Komarova’s (2013) ‘new capitalist’ and ‘contested’ city narratives and Rallings (2014: 432) view that the physical environment informs ‘how people interact with certain spaces and with each other.’ It concludes that this visualization acts as both representation and reminder that Belfast is a city of multiple narratives and lived experiences that require both expression and integration into wider political narratives about public space. It is an attempt to make visible issues that persist in regions of the city that cannot easily be assimilated into the new capitalist city narrative. In addition, such methods of community-led cooperative engagement of women living in contested areas of the post-conflict city generates what Gizeli (2011: 524) terms a form of ‘social capital’ whereby ‘resources embedded in social structures (…) can be mobilized towards a purposive collective action.’