Symbols, flags and the symbolic landscape of Northern Ireland

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Symbols, flags and the symbolic landscape of Northern Ireland

  1. 1. Symbols, Flags and the Symbolic Landscape in Northern Ireland Dominic Bryan Institute of Irish Studies Queen’s University Belfast
  2. 2. The Symbolic Landscape The ‘symbolic landscape’ – how people narrate meaning and identity in their physical world (planning of spaces, building, symbols, memories, memorials, parades, protests, carnivals etc etc). The symbolic landscape as a reflection of power and identify. The Development of Public Space • The development of public (civic) space – religion, politics, identity. • Democratic Principles – Freedom of Expression/Freedom of Assembly/Freedom from harassment • The power to control civic space (class, age, gender, ethnicity). • Contestation in the public space – private v commons; norms and values; ‘public order’; violence, threat, harassment… • Contestation of public space and divisions within society. • Manifesting power in the public space.
  3. 3. How Symbols Work • the meaning of symbols is not fixed; • meaning depends upon context; • symbols have a range of meanings; • different people will read the same symbol in a different way; • the psychological drives for the display of symbols might vary; • Symbols help community formation; • power dictates strategies followed; • new symbols can be used to in new situations; • political actors have a number of strategies when using symbols. Symbolic Conflict: • Invented All symbols are invented at some point in time. • Valued Symbols are used in contexts, such as rituals, where they are given value. • Appropriated Symbols with value are often appropriated by different groups. • Destroyed Symbols can be banned and destroyed. (Simon Harrison 1995)
  4. 4. THE USE OF FLAGS ON THE LANDSCAPE OF NORTHERN IRELAND

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