Thomas Wilson

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Binghamton, State U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9747

Approve Date

October 23, 2018

Project Title

Wilson, Dr. Thomas M., Binghamton U., Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Hard and Soft Borders, Identities and Governance in Brexit Northern Ireland'

Preliminary abstract: The UK’s 2016 decision to leave the EU in 2019 hinges on the ‘border issue,’ of how open or closed to make the land border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) when the British exit Europe. The EU has demanded that the issue be settled in 2018, implying that the agreement of terms for ‘Brexit’ will depend on what the UK does to keep the EU-inspired peace process alive in Northern Ireland (NI). This has made the border between NI and the ROI a matter of global importance. The borderlands of South Armagh in NI are currently preparing for the social and economic devastation of Brexit, which threatens to remove the benefits of 40 years of Europeanization, including the peace dividend that resulted from the Belfast Agreement of 1998. One strand of that agreement reconfigured local government and civil society by establishing new organs of cross-border governance, with significant local participation in bodies that oversee many quality of life issues vital to the borderlands. But Brexit implies that this border will soon be at least partially closed and the cross-border institutions dissolved. This project will investigate the strategies employed by private and public stakeholders in this borderland to resist or reconfigure Brexit. It will examine the transformations in political subjectivity that the Brexit process has uncovered, as one way to theorize the changing national and European dimensions of transnational and cross-border governance. It hypothesizes that Europeanization has splintered many of the previously recognized ‘hard’ identities of Republicanism and Loyalism, as various rural and urban interest groups, inside and outside formal politics and government, lobby for and negotiate whether the future border will itself go ‘hard’, with the return of state security, or remain ‘soft’ and allow the organs of cross-border governance to continue.