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Title: The great re-imagining : public art, urban space and the symbolic landscapes of a "new" Northern Ireland
Author: Hocking , Bryanna Tyece
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2013
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In the nearly 15 years since the Good Friday Agreement, a range of public art initiatives, from small-scale community projects to expensive contemporary installations, have been touted by Northern Irish officials as transformative tools that can contribute to social reconciliation and economic renaissance. This thesis critiques the reimagining of public space across five 'post-conflict' urban landscapes in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. These landscapes explore the spatialisation of discourses around globalisation, consumption, community, troubled history and culture. Each discourse sheds light on the ways the state has used symbolic elements, specifically public art, to telegraph new images (both real and conceptual) in public space as part of an effort to encourage desired social or economic outcomes. Based on interviews with a range of stakeholders, this thesis draws on a theoretical approach which sees the production of' landscape' as illustrative of broader struggles over identity and power in urban life. As such, it offers qualitative insight into the state's relationship to public space in Northern Ireland, and considers how official discourses have been materialised and contested through the public art process. It suggests that the push to create 'new ' symbolic landscapes has often resulted in civic identikit approaches to urban regeneration, tasked with addressing both post-conflict and postindustrial imperatives. The linking of peace and prosperity discourses in these re-created public spaces has profound implications for the meaning of the built environment and the potential vision of citizenship/subjectivity it foreshadows. At the same time, a relatively weak state has experienced difficulties navigating the treacherous terrain of top-down and bottom-up pressures in urban space as it seeks to attract global capital. The findings presented here indicate an often tenuous link between image production and spatial practice, and also highlight the need for future conflict transformation research to rigorously interrogate official discourses through broad-based, multifactorial approaches.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available