• Cromore Road, Coleraine Campus

    BT52 1SA Coleraine

    United Kingdom

  • 266 Citations
  • 7 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Teaching Interests

Sara is the Course Director of the BSc Geography Programme at Ulster. She teaches key concepts and research methods in Human Geography (specialising in Political Geography). She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Teaching Academy and an alumni of the LFHE Aurora Programme.

Research Interests


Sara’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the spatial dynamics of conflict and peacebuilding in divided or transitional societies and has two key strands. The first strand explores the ways in which the past is negotiated in contested spaces within societies engaged in peace processes and has been funded by both the ESRC and the AHRC. Previous projects considered the impact of the practices and processes of memory and heritage on peacebuilding initiatives in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, the Basque Country, Israel/Palestine and Sri Lanka (ESRC 2009-2012) and mapped the spatial outworking of commemorative-related violence in Northern Ireland (AHRC 2013).Her work has a strong impact and public engagement focus – she led a AHRC Impact Project in 2015/16 on memory and transition in Northern Ireland and more recently has worked alongside government organisations to harness heritage initiatives to develop peacebuilding (funded by NISIB 2016-2018, NIE and Flanders 2017). She has also worked as part of an interdisciplinary team working on a GCRF (NERC) project seeking to embed aftershock technology in vulnerable OCDs.The second strand of Sara’s research focuses on the relationship between social media and border politics in divided societies and has been funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust. She is a member of the AHRC peer review college and also reviews for the ESRC and NERC. She is an Academic Friend of EPLO.

External positions

Peer Review College, AHRC


  • G Geography (General)
  • Heritage
  • Conflict
  • Peacebuilding
  • Separatism
  • Migration

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Research Output

  • Creating liminal spaces of collective possibility in divided societies: building and burning the Temple

    McDowell, S. & Crooke, E., 1 Jul 2019, In : Cultural Geographies. 26, 3, p. 323-339 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 47 Downloads (Pure)

    Disaster depictions and geopolitical representations in Europe’s migration ‘Crisis’

    Dempsey, K. & McDowell, S., 11 Feb 2019, In : Geoforum. 98, p. 153-160 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 6 Citations (Scopus)

    Transitional optics: Exploring liminal spaces after conflict

    Murphy, J. & McDowell, S., 1 Sep 2019, In : Urban Studies. 56, 12, p. 1-6 2499-2514.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 3 Citations (Scopus)
    48 Downloads (Pure)
  • Activities

    • 1 Editorial work

    Irish Political Studies (Journal)

    Maire Braniff (Editor), , Sara McDowell (Editor), & Joanne Murphy (Editor)


    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial work