Playing with Place: Creative Mapping Approaches to Children’s Everyday Politics in Belfast42

  • Amy Mulvenna

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis offers novel insights into children's everyday political practices and geographies through mapping in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It engages with the complex and open-ended ways that child participants (aged seven-eleven) practice everyday, minor politics in the 'post-conflict' city, holding their perspectives of their everyday geographies at the centre of the research, but also drawing into this arena their encounters and 'intra-actions' with material objects and more-than human things in their everyday environments. My analysis advances a three-fold mapping process: monster mapping; button mapping, and walking-with Eric to understand ways in which creative mapping praxis and the thingness of posthuman, performative mappings extend and enhance engagement with the heterogeneous everyday possibilities and politics, and with possible 'tomorrows'. To this end, I account for the nuanced, surprising and complicated ways in which creative mapping praxes might re-circuit key questions relating to everyday lived experiences of children living in different localities within the ostensibly divided city. Centring upon the idea that children and young people experience Belfast in myriad and often contradictory ways that also invoke more-than-representational, affective and resistant registers, the thesis offers perspectives on the complexity and connectedness of living during an era of uncertainty. Specifically, the political landscape that endures after the UK Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the collapse of the Power-Sharing Agreement in January 2017. In this sense, mapping-with is connected to feminist geopolitical ideals of visibility and in/equality, which is a way of thinking in the minor too. In following the matters of concern arising from eventful mapping-with, I further consider the extent to which are children in different contexts in Belfast are able to be political, and how their political agencies manifest in material terms, for instance as skilled urban carers. From there, I extend my line of questioning to consider ways in which mapping-with troubles normative geographies of division as traditionally framed and mapped in Belfast. Finally, I extrapolate the advantages of mapping-with in order to press on how - and why - it should be deployed elsewhere, beyond the Northern Irish context.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorChristopher Perkins (Supervisor) & Saskia Warren (Supervisor)


  • post-conflict
  • Belfast
  • Northern Ireland
  • children's creative geographies
  • Creative mapping
  • geopolitics

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