Prof Jennifer Todd seminar on Identity Change, Identity Politics and Identity Traps, Thurs 7 February NUI Galway

Professor Jennifer Todd, one of the foremost scholars of the Northern Ireland conflict and of identity change in Ireland is giving a research seminar on Thursday 7 February in the School of Political Science and Sociology in NUI Galway.

Date: Thurs 7 February, 2pm
Venue: Room 333, Aras Moyola
Identity change, identity politics and identity traps: why everyday compromise after conflict is so often reversed. Research from the two Irelands.

Abstract: This paper sketches a dynamic empirical analysis of micro-identity change and its (potential) macro-impact in politics and social life. It outlines some of the concepts, measures and conclusions from my recently published qualitative research on both parts of Ireland (with a control study in France). Its focus on individual identity innovation – set against analysis of social boundaries and cultural grammars – allows comparative empirical analysis of incipient processes of identity change in very different social settings. Its typology of identity change, oriented to project, content and argumentation, shows the obstacles specific to each type of change and the existence of social traps, where individuals’ resources and opportunities lead them to types of change almost certain to fail. This allows more nuanced comparative research than do the dominant political science approaches to identity. Its conclusions go against contemporary wisdom. Identity change is pervasive, even more so in conflict-ridden situations than in consensual ones. It takes a limited number of forms, working from given national and religious bases rather than rejecting them. And it meets predictable social traps. The paper shows how this leads to a distinctive approach to explaining political reversals in Northern Ireland from flags to Brexit and a distinctive policy orientation. Neither pluralist nor cosmopolitan ideologies grasp the process:  rather than ‘new narratives’ there is need for new constitutional signposts beyond identity politics.

Jennifer Todd, Identity Change After Conflict: Ethnicity, Boundaries and Belonging in the Two Irelands. Springer/Palgrave Macmillan 2018


Jennifer Todd is a full professor at University College Dublin (until 2018 in School of Politics and International Relations), Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Fellow of the Geary Institute, UCD, current Fellow of the Political Science Association of Ireland, and (2016) Fernand Braudel Fellow at SPS, European University Institute, research director (previously director) Institute for British-Irish Studies, UCD. She writes on the structural and institutional conditions of (ethnic) conflict and the processes of institutional change that can lead to settlement, with particular expertise on Northern Ireland, and on issues of identity, ethnicity and identity change. On conflict and settlement, she is co-author with J. Ruane of Dynamics of Conflict in Northern Ireland (Cambridge, 1996), co-author with J. Coakley of ‘From Sunningdale to St Andrews‘ (Oxford, forthcoming 2019), and numerous articles in West European Politics, Political Studies, Parliamentary AffairsIrish Political Studies. and numerous edited books and book chapters.  On identity and ethnicity, she has recently published Identity Change after Conflict (Springer-Palgrave 2018), a co-edited journal issue with B. Rumelili on Paradoxes of Identity Change  (2018) and numerous articles and edited volumes, in Politics, Theory and Society, Archives Européennes de Sociologie, Nations and Nationalism, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Participation and Conflict, etc. With J. Coakley she produced an archive of interviews on Breaking Patterns of Conflict in Northern Ireland, recently opened to researchers in the John Whyte Archive, Archives, UCD. She is presently writing (with J. Ruane) a sequel to Dynamics of Conflict, and undertaking new qualitative research in ‘Brexiting’ Northern Ireland.

About niallodoc

Senior Lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway
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