PhD Studentship available: Oral History and Conflict Resolution in Belfast

Cross-Community Oral History, Post-Conflict Geography and Conflict Resolution at West Belfast Interfaces


TECHNE AHRC PhD Studentship in collaboration with Falls Community Council and University of Brighton

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Brighton: “Cross-Community Oral History, Post-Conflict Geography and Conflict Resolution at West Belfast Interfaces”. This is offered under the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership Awards scheme. The partner institutions are the University of Brighton and Falls Community Council (FCC) in West Belfast. The studentship will be supervised by Professor Graham Dawson and Professor Catherine Moriarty of the University of Brighton and Claire Hackett of FCC. This full-time studentship, which is funded for three years at standard AHRC rates, will begin on 1 October 2018.

The Studentship

This studentship will investigate, evaluate and contribute to further development of the Dúchas Oral History Archive as a tool for conflict resolution and reconciliation in West Belfast. Established by Falls Community Council in 1999, the original aim of the Archive was to record experiences of the Northern Ireland conflict in nationalist West Belfast. This has expanded through peacebuilding work with working class communities across Belfast. Over time, contacts with unionist communities emerged, were nurtured, and developed into a cross-community partnership for gathering interviews and creating opportunities for public and private conversations about history and memory. The archive now contains a range of collections and includes interviews from residents at the interfaces between the unionist Shankill and nationalist Divis, Clonard and Springfield areas.

The project involves critical exploration of the strategies and practices devised by Dúchas to build relationships across divisions and to acknowledge and deal with a conflicted history. It will examine the Archive’s conception of the relationship between oral history and conflict resolution, and how conflicts and divisions that arise in community and cross-community oral history practice on West Belfast’s interfaces have been addressed in its work. Dúchas’s influence on local understandings about the value of cross-community history-making and memory-work, and its role in the societal and policy conversation about the significance of storytelling work in dealing with the past, will be considered.

The project also involves detailed engagement with the narratives collected in the Archive, and pioneer their use in making an interpretative history of experiences and memories of ‘place’ on both sides of the interfaces before, during and after the Troubles. Drawing on current academic scholarship on life history and memory of conflict, post-conflict geography and conflict resolution, and attending to differences within as well as between interface communities, the project will explore how these stories may inform a local history concerned with community identity and relationship, spatial division and fragmentation, social (dis)connectedness, and grass-roots agency in relation to State policy and practice.


Through this twin approach, the studentship will advance further developments in cross-community storytelling and archiving practices by the Dúchas Archive and its partnership organisations, and contribute to wider debates amongst community practitioners, policy-makers and academics about the uses and limitations of oral history in conflict resolution and reconciliation.


Applicants must satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements and should normally have a Masters degree and interdisciplinary academic experience in one or more of the following: life history research, cultural memory studies, historical cultural studies, social history, cultural geography, social anthropology. Practical experience of an oral/community history project, and/or peace-building/conflict resolution work, and/or archiving, would be an advantage.

Applicants must be a resident of the UK or European Economic Area (EEA). In general, full studentships are available to students who are settled in the UK and have been ordinarily resident for a period of at least three years before the start of postgraduate studies. Fees-only awards are generally available to EU nationals resident in the EEA. International applicants are normally not eligible to apply for this studentship.


Subject to AHRC eligibility criteria, the studentship covers tuition fees and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses. The value of the stipend for 2018/19 is yet to be confirmed. However, it is likely to be £14,553 plus £550 additional stipend payment for Collaborative Doctoral Students. Students can apply for an additional six months stipend to engage in extended development activities such as work placements. For more information visit:

As a TECHNE student, the person selected will have full access to the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 50 students per year from across seven universities in London and the south-east. See TECHNE students can also apply for additional funding to support individual or group training and development activities.

How to Apply

Applicants should submit via email a curriculum vitae (no more than two pages), a sample of writing, a brief letter outlining their qualification for the studentship, and the names and contact details of two academic referees to no later than 5pm on 30 October 2017. All documents should be submitted in either a MS Word or PDF format. Please ensure the subject line of your email appears as ‘surname, first name – FCC/Brighton studentship.’

Interviews are scheduled to be held in Brighton the week beginning 13 November 2017.  Shortlisted candidates will be required to complete an application to the Doctoral Programme at the University of Brighton.

For further information please contact Professor Graham Dawson ( | +44 (0)1273 643301)