Cultural Contestation and Masquerade Politics: The Challenge of Trying to Develop a Cultural Event in a Divided City

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Abstract

Cultural events feature prominently in the economic strategies of many cities. However, culture is open to interpretation and cultural expression can be problematic. This paper examines Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in Belfast and how this event has been the victim of a bitter ‘cultural war’. Efforts to reframe the event and make it inclusive have had limited success. Like many other post-conflict countries, culture in Northern Ireland is tied to group identity and cultural expression is bound up with the battle for political legitimacy and state sovereignty. This battle for ownership and cultural supremacy has meant that Belfast has been unable to cash in on its authentic links to Saint Patrick. This is unlikely to change because, despite COVID-19 and the prominence given to event tourism in Belfast’s new culture strategy, the zero-sum character of the cultural war in Northern Ireland would suggest group identity will continue to trump the economic argument.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvent Management
Early online date9 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Marketing
  • Tourism
  • Business and International Management
  • Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Belfast
  • Saint Patrick's Day
  • cultural expression
  • event tourism

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