Situating Sectarianism: Territory, Identity and Empire in Ulster

  • Desmond Bell
Part of the Youth Questions book series (YQ)


In this chapter I propose to examine the historical and political background to the entrenched sectarian divisions which characterize Northern Ireland society. In Ulster the ongoing conflict of national aspiration remains one of the rawest in the advanced capitalist world. In twentieth-century Northern Ireland, as indeed in many other colonized regions, class relations and ethnic mobilizations relate in the most complex of ways. And as we might expect, youth cultural formations reflect that matrix of relations. Our theories of youth subculture have been dominated by a metropolitan ‘pure class model’. This has tended to overlook the role of both the gender and ethnic dynamics involved in youth formations. In an imperialised region, or ‘ethnic frontier’ like Ulster, one has to examine how youth-cultural practices crystallize around not only the class but also the ethnic dimension of their parental cultures.


Residential Segregation Youth Culture Sectarian Division British State Direct Rule 
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© Desmond Bell 1990

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  • Desmond Bell

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