How Brexit Affects Boundaries in Northern Ireland

Abswoude, Renée van; Vries, Lotje de


n June 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) held a referendum on the question of withdrawal from the European Union (EU). With a 51.9% majority, the citizens voted in favor of what now is known as “Brexit.” While in England the majority voted to leave the EU, Northern Ireland voted to remain. Drawing on three months of ethnographic fieldwork in the border town Derry/Londonderry, this essay examines the impact of Brexit and its potential consequences on the relations between British and Irish citizens. More specifically, we look at the impact of the establishment of an EU outside border—the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—on social boundaries and walls between polarized segments of society in Derry/Londonderry.