Tribeca Belfast and the on-screen regeneration of Northern Ireland

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Abstract

This paper looks at media representations of the projected regeneration of Northern Ireland, paying particular attention to a recent promotional film made to elicit support for the redevelopment of a part of Belfast’s city centre. Commissioned by Castlebrooke Investments, ‘Tribeca Belfast’ offers a future prospectus of the city that is as superficial as it is bland. It is, however, illustrative of two influential ideas and strategies that took flight at the end of the Cold War and the ‘triumph of capitalism’. One seeks peace through the application of neoliberal nostrums; the other combines brand theory with state-craft in pursuit of global competitiveness. Both propose models of citizenship that are politically benign, either preferring middle class solipsism or demanding brand loyalty. In Castlebrooke’s projection of a future Belfast, this translates into a city peopled by a mobile professional class, waited upon and entertained by servile locals. But such a sterile vision is inimical to building peace and political progress because it underestimates and downplays the significance of marginalised groups who through their activism and expressions of solidarity can lay better claim to the ‘heart and soul’ of Belfast, evoked by Castlebrooke.
LanguageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Media and Cultural Politics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Aug 2019

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Regeneration
Northern Ireland
Belfast
Tribeca
Media Representations
Cold War
Redevelopment
Pursuit
Peacebuilding
Solipsism
Peace
Solidarity
Competitiveness
Activism
Loyalty
Flight
Citizenship
Middle Class
Capitalism

Cite this

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title = "Tribeca Belfast and the on-screen regeneration of Northern Ireland",
abstract = "This paper looks at media representations of the projected regeneration of Northern Ireland, paying particular attention to a recent promotional film made to elicit support for the redevelopment of a part of Belfast’s city centre. Commissioned by Castlebrooke Investments, ‘Tribeca Belfast’ offers a future prospectus of the city that is as superficial as it is bland. It is, however, illustrative of two influential ideas and strategies that took flight at the end of the Cold War and the ‘triumph of capitalism’. One seeks peace through the application of neoliberal nostrums; the other combines brand theory with state-craft in pursuit of global competitiveness. Both propose models of citizenship that are politically benign, either preferring middle class solipsism or demanding brand loyalty. In Castlebrooke’s projection of a future Belfast, this translates into a city peopled by a mobile professional class, waited upon and entertained by servile locals. But such a sterile vision is inimical to building peace and political progress because it underestimates and downplays the significance of marginalised groups who through their activism and expressions of solidarity can lay better claim to the ‘heart and soul’ of Belfast, evoked by Castlebrooke.",
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