Conflict in Cities © 2007 All Rights Reserved
Conflict in Cities is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain (grant number: RES-060-25-0015)

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Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge
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Prof Liam O'Dowd

Liam O’Dowd’s interest in cities, ethno-national conflict and contested states began with his PhD dissertation, entitled, The Intellectual Image of the City in Irish Social Commentary and Urban Planning.  On moving to Northern Ireland his research began to focus on the contested (British) state in Northern Ireland.  In 1980, he co-authored Northern Ireland: Between Civil Rights and Civil War and subsequently wrote extensively on the political economy of the conflict.  His work in the 1980s, also involved studying urban politics in Belfast, in particular how housing development, road building and ‘enterprise zone’ policy intersected with the ethno-national conflict on the ground.   His research between 1988-1
991, funded by the ESRC, focused on local responses to economic change in two smaller urban centres in Northern Ireland, Newry and Craigavon.  Among his publications from this period was a study of how the failed ‘New Town’ of Craigavon shaped, and was shaped by, deep ethno-national division.

Throughout the 1990s, he linked his interest in Northern Ireland to wider issues of colonialism and nationalism (British and Irish).  In 1990, he wrote an extensive new introduction to a new edition of Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and Colonised’, reflecting on the relevance of Memmi’s analysis for Northern Ireland. Current research, in collaboration with James Anderson, further develops these interests by re-examining the historical intersection of imperialism, nationalism and ethno-national conflict.

From the early 1990s onwards, O’Dowd’s interest in the contested state became more focused on the issue of borders. Between 1991 and 1994, he directed an ESRC funded project entitled Negotiating the British/Irish Border: Cross-Border Co-operation on the European Periphery.  Since 2000, he has worked closely with James Anderson in the Centre for International Borders Research (CIBR) [] at Queen’s which he directs. The inter-disciplinary team at CIBR, also comprising Hastings Donnan and Tom Wilson, has made a substantial contribution to the development of the multi-disciplinary area of border studies.

Since 2000, O’Dowd has been involved in a series of funded research projects on cross-border co-operation cooperation in Ireland and the role of grassroots voluntary and community organisations in the Northern Ireland peace process.  This has culminated in a recently published book (co-edited with John Coakley), entitled Crossing the Border: New Relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, (2007).  O’Dowd is also involved with CIBR colleagues in an EU FP6 research project, EUDimensions, (2006-2009) [] which is studying the roles of civil society organisations in cross-border co-operation across the external borders of the EU.

Throughout his research career, O’Dowd has maintained an interest in inter-disciplinary approaches from a sociological perspective. This brings together political sociology, political economy and an interest in the connections between economics and cultural change – perspectives which will be further developed in the context of the current Conflict in Cities project.


Link To: personal page of Liam O’Dowd


Principal Investigator

Dr Wendy Pullan
Architecture, University of Cambridge (Jerusalem)

Prof James Anderson
Geography, Queen's University Belfast (Belfast)
Prof Mick Dumper
Politics, University of Exeter (Jerusalem)
Prof Liam O'Dowd
Sociology, Queen's University Belfast (Belfast)

Research Associates

Dr Britt Baillie
Architecture, University of Cambridge (Jerusalem)
Dr Craig Larkin
Politics, University of Exeter (Jerusalem)
Lefkos Kyriacou
Architecture, University of Cambridge (Jerusalem)
Dr Milena Komarova
Sociology, Queens University Belfast
Dr Martina McKnight
Sociology, Queens University Belfast

Advisory Council
[Advisory Council Info]

Primary Research Partners
[Primary Research Partners Info]

Linked City Partners
[Linked City Partners info]

Website Manager

Dr Britt Baillie
Architecture, University of Cambridge (Jerusalem)

Website Developer

Dr Andong Lu
University of Cambridge