The Politics of Post-Conflict Space: The Mysterious Case of Missing Graffiti in “Post-Troubles” Northern Ireland

Kenneth Bush

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Why is there so little graffiti in Northern Ireland compared to cities in North America and Europe -- including Great Britain, to which it is politically connected, and Ireland, with which it is geographically connected? This question is particularly perplexing given the highly developed political mural tradition on both sides of the sectarian divide in the North, and the almost 15 years that have passed since the signing of the Peace Agreement ending some three decades of militarized conflict. This paper explores the connections between the absence of graffiti, and the street-level structures and processes of reconciliation or conflict – with a specific focus on the geopolitics of paramilitary control within communities throughout Northern Ireland. The contributions of the paper are three-fold: (1) it highlights the importance of graffiti as a (usually neglected) lens for assessing the degree to which the expected benefits of a peace agreement are experienced at the street level; (2) it addresses the methodological challenge of how to examine something that is not there (specifically, it studies the absence of graffiti in Northern Ireland by comparing it to the logic, mechanics and meanings of graffiti elsewhere); and (3) it questions the well-marketed representation of Northern Ireland as a unqualified case of successful post-agreement peace.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3-27
    JournalContemporary Politics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2013

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    • graffiti
    • political geography
    • Northern Ireland
    • political murals
    • ethnic conflict
    • paramilitaries


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