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IBIS Research Programme: 2020-2023


Contemporary global political concerns and European political agendas focus inter alia on the dangers of populist nationalism; the challenge of designing democracy and recalibrating sovereignty across national and state divisions; the legacies of violence, colonialism and inequality on a global North-South scale, intensified by the new crises of climate change and trade wars. These topics form the subject of international research collaboration.

Current IBIS research on the processes of democratic deliberation in national and cross-national contexts, on popular reflexivity on values and identity, on institutional-constitutional change and conflict resolution and on constitutional futures in an Irish and British-Irish context is of direct comparative relevance in political science and IR analysis of current global and EU challenges.

Each of these themes, and each of dangers and difficulties involved, is manifested in the challenges to peace and settlement in Northern Ireland:

  • the dangers of populism are not only evident in current British and Northern Irish politics, but they take an unexpected form there, not primarily as products of ‘narrow nationalism’ but as logical outcomes of some forms of unionism. This generates new questions about democracy and rights in multi-levelled territorial politics
  • the difficulty of designing democracy and recalibrating sovereignty across national and state divisions was creatively resolved in 1998, in a consociational and transnational settlement (the Good Friday Agreement, GFA). After Brexit, these issues arise anew, with major challenges of re-making democracy and re-configuring sovereignty in a new geopolitical context
  • the legacies of violence, colonialism and inequality remain important in Northern Irish, North-South and British-Irish relations; it is now clear that the GFA of 1998 only partially resolved these legacies.

Thus, as part of our current IBIS research programme, we hope to engage with international and transnational research networks and partners researching on the general issues in different contexts and through a range of different methods.