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Material Mediations: People and Things in a World of Movement
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The Great Reimagining
Public Art, Urban Space, and the Symbolic Landscapes of a 'New' Northern Ireland
Bree T. Hocking
244 pages, 30 illus., 2 tables, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78238-621-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (February 2015)
eISBN 978-1-78238-622-3 eBook
“Carefully weaving together social theory and ethnographic actuality, effortlessly shifting gears between grand narratives and the quips and asides of her wide-ranging informants, Hocking's The Great Reimagining acts not only as an excellent addition to academic work on public art, the creative city, and post-conflict resolution, but also as a perfect example of the unrivalled qualities that ethnographic research can provide.” · Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
“This is a timely, relevant and thorough examination of how urban space is constructed and contested in ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland. Hocking shows through deft engagement with ethnographic and documentary material how post-Good Friday Agreement policy has been dominated by attempts to create spaces that are amenable to tourists and capital, but also the limits of such initiatives in a context where ethno-national division remains a salient feature of everyday life for many.” · Peter Geoghegan, University of Edinburgh
While sectarian violence has greatly diminished on the streets of Belfast and Derry, proxy battles over the right to define Northern Ireland’s identity through its new symbolic landscapes continue. Offering a detailed ethnographic account of Northern Ireland’s post-conflict visual transformation, this book examines the official effort to produce new civic images against a backdrop of ongoing political and social struggle. Interviews with politicians, policymakers, community leaders, cultural workers, and residents shed light on the deeply contested nature of seemingly harmonized urban landscapes in societies undergoing radical structural change. Here, the public art process serves as a vital means to understanding the wider politics of a transforming public sphere in an age of globalization and transnational connectivity.
Bree T. Hocking is an anthropologist and journalist who writes on the intersection of art, spatial politics, and society. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and media outlets including Anthropology Matters, BBC Radio 4, and Roll Call, where she was formerly a staff writer. She received a Ph.D. from Queen’s University Belfast, and in 2013 was the recipient of an Irmgard Coninx Foundation fellowship to carry out research related to the artistic transformation of the Berlin Wall.