Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


VIRTUAL IAS Festival: Crossing the line: contested borders and bounded space in Ireland

04 May 2021, 9:30 am–11:00 am


Panel discussion with historian Peter Leary, architect Aisling Rusk, and artist and researcher Paula McCloskey.

This event is free.

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2021 marks the centenary of Irish partition, a major turning point in the histories of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the British Empire. This anniversary provides a moment for reflection on the past but contested boundaries of politics and identity continue to shape Ireland’s present. Much of the recent Brexit debate turned on the Irish land boundary – a site of violent and deadly conflict during the period of the Troubles – with the return of a ‘hard border’ avoided only through the creation of a new and controversial ‘border in the Irish sea’. Amidst talk of a future ‘border poll’ on the prospect of Irish unity, the city of Belfast remains deeply scarred by division. More than twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement, almost 100 walls or ‘peace lines’ still delineate and separate its Catholic and Protestant communities. In this panel discussion, historian Peter Leary, architect Aisling Rusk, and artist and researcher Paula McCloskey, explore the very different ways in which their work seeks to navigate and subvert these lines of demarcation.

If you missed the event, you can watch the recording here:

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/1BddBaEb


This talk forms part of the IAS five-year anniversary festival on the theme of ‘Alternative Epistemologies’.

All welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance on the day, and follow this FAQ link for more information and to read our virtual events code of conduct. All of our events are free, but you can support the IAS here.

About the Speakers

Aisling Rusk

Director at Studio idir

Aisling Rusk is a Belfast-based architect and the founder and director of Studio idir (the Irish word for in-between). Her PhD investigated spatial practices that build connection within the divided contexts of Palestine/Israel and Northern Ireland.

More about Aisling Rusk

Paula McCloskey

Researcher at University of Derby

Paula McCloskey is an artist and researcher at the University of Derby. Her recent work has focussed on borders and includes The Eile Project, an ongoing research project which develops the practice of border-fictioning focussing on the UK/Irish border scene.

More about Paula McCloskey

Peter Leary

Vice Chancellor’s Fellow in History at Oxford Brookes University

Peter Leary is currently a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow in History at Oxford Brookes University and author of Unapproved routes: histories of the Irish border, 1922–72 (Oxford University Press, 2016). He is a former Junior Research Fellow at the IAS.

More about Peter Leary