Laura Fisher

Date of Award


First Advisor

Kathryn Boswell

Second Advisor

Stuart Levine

Third Advisor

Nancy Bonvillain


Field work conducted in Belfast in March and April of 2012, in addition to extensive research in the field of race relations and racism present this thesis as a critical assessment of changing racial demographics and prejudices in a society of strong sectarian divisions and historically rooted intolerance against “out-groups”. Legacies of colonization, sectarianism, and conflicting identities in Northern Ireland have established notions of a “culture of intolerance” and resulting prejudices of White majority society toward minority ethnic populations following increases in immigration after the “peace processes” of “The Troubles” and passing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in 1998. Minority ethnic populations suffered from a lack of representation and legal protection prior to the passing of the Race Relations (NI) Order in 1997. Legislation surrounding racial equality strategies and “good race relations” of the Race Relations (NI) Order (1997) and Good Friday Agreement (1998) provided an impetus for anti-racism efforts and social inclusion of the minority ethnic population, but increasing visibility and an influx in immigration over the past 15 years has led to minority ethnic experiences of direct and indirect racism on an individual, political, and institutional level. Strength of collective identity and religious membership in Northern Ireland result in xenophobic attitudes and prejudices toward “out-group” members, and thus create for the socialization of youth generations into a “culture of intolerance”. Xenophobic attitudes, siege mentality, and strong “in-group” memberships influence prejudicial attitudes and racist violence toward minority ethnic individuals, while also representing the impacting legacy of sectarianism on racial prejudices in present day Northern Ireland.

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