Fear, Force, and Flight: Configurations of Intimidation and Displacement in Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’

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While the presence and intensity of armed conflict is often understood as the logical and axiomatic causal factor of flight, this article offers a more in-depth understanding of the myriad of circumstances and factors that shape forced displacement from homes and communities. Based on extensive field research, the article schematically aggregates displacement in Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ into three broad categories; 1. Direct intimidation 2. Indirect intimidation and 3. Mutual Arbitration. While the ‘extraordinary’ violence of burning homes, smouldering streets, and mass population movements came to symbolise something of an archetypal form of displacement in Northern Ireland, the majority of intimidation and movement during the ‘Troubles’ were the product of more tedious though no less effective forms of ‘everyday’ intimidation and threats. For many, the decision to flee was the culmination of months and
sometimes years of enduring a variety of monotonous attacks and intimidation. While the turn towards rational choice within recent refugee approaches seeks to shift the emphasis from predominant narratives of disempowerment and victimhood, nevertheless, the research presented here underscores the primacy of fear and intimidation as the common determinants of forced movement. The communication of those threats, as this article demonstrates, came in many forms and complexions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Early online date21 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 21 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Irish Research Council; Busteed Postdoctoral Scholarship, University of Liverpool. I wish to express my gratitude to the two reviewers for their comments and feedback on this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Displacement
  • Northern Ireland
  • The Troubles
  • intimidation
  • armed conflict


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