University of Ulster takes lead in 'border' research

A University of Ulster research institute is to take a radical new look at one of the most hotly-disputed areas of life in Ireland – the border.

The Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages (AICH), based at the university's Magee campus, has won major funding for a project that will peel back the layers of community experience along the 'borderlands' to record for posterity the impact of the 256-mile twisting line on the map and its changing face.

Project leader Professor Brian Graham, Director of the AICH, said: "There is an increasing interest in Europe in borders as zones where people can connect rather than be separated. The Irish borderlands are not unique in Europe.

"This study will have real relevance for the whole question of the ways in which borders and borderlands, are 'negotiated' - this is, how people come to terms with them and how they impact on people; the idea being that these interconnections can be positive as well as negative."

Through personal impressions and recollections, the project will echo the story of folk whose daily routine straddles or adjoins the political frontier and trace its place in the traditions of Protestants and Catholics who have grown up along it.

It will catalogue its changing physical landscape, logging military posts and border barriers and analyse how the border has been portrayed in literature and the media.

A significant part of the project also involves an oral history of people’s experience of living with the border and the compilation of an archive based on interviews, backed up by a high-tech photographic record.

The survey will explore how people have lived with or circumvented the physical frontier in the good times and the bad. The Arts & Humanities Research Board (AHRB) is providing a £293,000 grant for the three-year research programme.


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