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Whose 'Wee Country'?: Identity politics and sport in Northern Ireland

Liston, Katie/K and Deighan, Matthew (2017) Whose 'Wee Country'?: Identity politics and sport in Northern Ireland. In: Football, Politics and Popular Culture, University of Limerick. Football Collective. 12 pp. [Conference contribution]

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Abstract

This paper responds to Hunter’s (2003) call for increased attention to identity, culture, power and sport. It explores, for the first time, the lived realities of identity politics in a divided society, through interviews with 12 self-declared Irish nationalists and republicans that represented Northern Ireland. Important insights are revealed into national eligibility decisions for either Irish team, motivated mainly by ‘shop window’ visibility and being seen as the best of a peer group. Political and sporting nationalisms were not necessarily analogous. A significant original finding is that the lived experiences of being closer to ‘the other’ resulted in an overall reinforcement rather than dissolution of difference. Visual and oral ‘national’ symbols such as flag, and especially anthem, delineated such difference, being symbolic walls of the mind. ‘Our wee country’ was thus a polarised and polarising fantasy shield. The paper concludes by reconsidering the role of sport as a lens through which to examine identity and its’ place as part of the ‘problem’ and ‘solution’.

Item Type:Conference contribution (Paper)
Keywords:sport, identity, Northern Ireland, politics, football, wee country
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Sport
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute > Centre for Sport in Society
Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute
ID Code:39342
Deposited By: Dr Katie Liston
Deposited On:22 Jan 2018 11:46
Last Modified:22 Jan 2018 11:46

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