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Dangerous friends and deadly foesperformances of masculinity in the divided city

Karen Lysaght


This paper examines the relationship between dominant and subordinate masculinities n inner-city residential areas of Belfast. It explores these relationships within the arena of the religiously segregated district, before exploring how these categories shift and mutate when transferred outside the local community. It examines how fear of violence among both dominant and subordinate men can be understood as a way of expressing masculinity. Through examining how men engage in spatial negotiations based on an assumption that they could be categorised as possible members of paramilitary organisations, the blurring of divisions between masculinities becomes obvious. Locational change can ensure that internal categories become blurred and indistinct, demonstrating the relational and contingent nature of gender. Drawing upon a literature on gender performativity, the paper argues that the categories of dominant and subordinate are merely ideal gender roles that are enacted daily by individuals constrained within these performative genres.

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