Monday, April 20, 2015

New Publication: Understanding NGO Strategies to Engage with Donor-Funded Development Projects: Reconciling and Differentiating Objectives

In his latest journal article Dr Markus Ketola considers the role of civil society actors in promoting agendas independent of donor interests.

Much of the literature on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) problematises the relationship between donors and NGOs in terms of the control the former exercise over the latter. This leaves other aspects of a rich and varied relationship relatively unexplored. The aim of this article is to highlight the agency of civil society actors to promote an agenda independent of donor interests. The reactions of Turkish NGOs to the policy agenda and financial support put forward by the European Union suggest two main motivations for NGO engagement with the process: negotiating access to material resources and participating in the politics of representation. Out of this engagement emerges a typology of four strategies labelled ‘translation’, ‘brokerage’, ‘navigation’ and ‘agonism’. These strategies reflect contrasting means of turning resources – both financial and ideopolitical – into the capacity to realise organisational objectives.

For further information email:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Publication - War, disenfranchisement and the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy

In his latest journal article George Tridimas, Professor of Political Economy examines the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy and its impact on both the rich elites and poorer Athenians. 
The ancient Athenian democracy emerged in 508 (all dates BCE), became a dominant naval power, fought a multitude of external wars and ended in 322 after it was defeated by Macedon and was replaced by oligarchy. The paper employs a political economy framework to examine the demise of democracy. It illustrates that war was a means of redistribution, benefiting the majority of poorer Athenians at the expense of the rich elite, who bore a disproportionate burden of its cost. A model of conflict is set up to study the incentives of the poor majority to go to war. After analyzing a dynamic setting it also investigates the circumstances when after defeating Athens her enemy chooses to impose oligarchy that disenfranchises the poor. As victory at war is probabilistic it is concluded that the fall of the democracy was neither unavoidable nor inevitable.

For further information email: 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

IRiSS co-hosts Postgraduate Research Student Conference

In collaboration with the Transitional Justice Institute (Ulster) and the Centre for Post-Conflict Justice (TCD), the Institute for Research in Social Sciences hosted the  Postgraduate Research Student Conference on 'Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Peace Building'.

Attended by over 40 post-graduate researchers from across the UK, Ireland and Europe, participants were treated to three sessions that dealt with 'grass-roots peacebuilding', 'minority identities and transitional justice', and 'justice denied'.

Showcasing the scope and diversity of scholarship being conducted, the conflicts in Colombia, South Africa, Kosovo, Peru, and Northern Ireland were examined throughout the day.

The conference offered students hands-on experience of conference organising, from designing a call for papers to selecting abstracts and chairing sessions.

It also brought together graduate students to present their work to one another, create supportive early-career networks, and obtain feedback from established academics in their field through expert feedback. 

The stimulating sessions were concluded with the première screening of 'A Land Between'.

The day went off without a hitch, courtesy of the post-graduate conference organising committee which included doctoral students from Ulster University, Queens University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin.

A special thanks also goes to the Social Science Research Graduate School for sponsoring the lunch and refreshments.

IRiSS co-hosts 'The Land Between' première and Q&A with the Director

On 7 November 2014 the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences in conjunction with Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice (QUB) hosted the première of The Land Between, a pioneering documentary that explores the militarisation of borders, and the often unseen impacts anti-immigration policy currents have on those fleeing war and extreme poverty. 

Attended by over 70 people, there was a rich discussion with the Director David Fedele after the screening. Featuring scholars, activists, advocates, students, and the general public, the challenge of confronting racism, right-wing extremism, and paramilitarised border controls, were discussed.  

David Fedele fields questions from the audience

The film screening concluded the Postgraduate Research Student Conference on 'Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Peace Building', an event attended by over 40 postgraduate researchers from across the UK and Ireland. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

IRiSS hosts consultation on Northern Ireland Racial Equality Strategy

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, a consultation on behalf of OFMDFM’s Racial Equality Unit for the new draft Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland was hosted by the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS). 
This involved staff and student representatives from across Ulster University who contributed to the consultation by engaging in discussions structured around three specific themes identified in the strategy document: 1) Barriers to equality; 2) A sense of belonging; and 3) Right strategy, Right direction? 

Participants at the OFMDFM consultation of the draft Racial Equality Strategy, hosted by IRiSS at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus

The outcomes of intense group discussions were audio recorded and presented to the OFMDFM team. 
Ken Fraser, Head, Racial Equality Unit, OFMDFM, at the end of the day’s event reported, “Today, at the end of several months of public consultation, the enormously valuable contribution of Ulster University staff and students has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the potential of the new Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland.”

IRiSS organising team with OFMDFM staff: l to r: Dr Kris Lasslett, IRiSS; Mr Ken Fraser, Head, Racial Equality Unit, OFMDFM; Dr Lucy Michael, IRiSS; Dr Johanne Devlin Trew, IRiSS, Mr Philip Devlin, Racial Equality Unit, OFMDFM

Friday, September 26, 2014

UCoM Members at IRiSS Take Part in Exciting Linguistic Diversity Project with Newcastle University

IRiSS Staff and UCoM Take Part in Linguistic Diversity Project

A number of staff from the Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS) and the Ulster Centre on Multilingualism (UCoM) have been involved in an exciting project with staff from Newcastle University. The 'Múin Béarla do na Leanbhain' Project investigates how language in the north of the island of Ireland has been shaped by both historical and contemporary migration to the region. The project is being led by Professor Karen Corrigan (Newcastle) and is funded by AHRC in partnership with Gael Linn, and the Centre for Migration Studies in Omagh. 
Professor Alison Henry and Dr Philip McDermott (Both from UCoM and IRiSS), have been providing consultative work on this project which has involved a number of outreach activities and events with local schools and community bodies.
For example, in the Summer Dr McDermott took part in activities organised as part of the project which celebrated Community Relations Week. Philip and Professor Corrigan gave a joint public lecture at Omagh library on how historical and contemporary migration has shaped the languages spoken in this region. A  particular local focus was provided for the Tyrone audience. The lecture also examined how these languages continue to evolve and have even left their imprint on the environments around us today. The event was chaired by Dr Johanne Devlin Trew our IRiSS colleague from the School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy. 
Further events are planned with school pupils in the Autumn in order to introduce sociology students to topics relating to sociolinguistics and the sociology of Language.     

Dr Johanne Devlin Trew, Dr Philip McDermott and Professor Karen Corrigan pictured after the event in Omagh Library

If you would like to be added to the e-mailing list for this project please contact Dr Philip McDermott (