“God’s little acre” and “Belfast Chinatown”: Diversity and Ethnic Place Identity in Belfast
For members of ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland, place making can mean negotiating challenges posed by tensions between the two majority communities of Catholic, nationalist, republican and Protestant, unionist, loyalist; tensions which are reflected in contests over place identity. In Belfast, the Chinese Welfare Association (CWA) has undertaken two building projects to service the needs of the Chinese community and to promote diversity, engaging in close consultation with local communities. Hong Ling Gardens Chinese Sheltered Housing Scheme provides culturally sensitive sheltered accommodation for Chinese elders. The second building will provide a Chinese Community and Resource Centre, and construction is planned to commence in December 2006. This paper highlights how the CWA has met challenges posed by territoriality, and anxieties in relation to perceived changes in politico-cultural place identities, within the complexities of Northern Ireland. It uses semi-structured interviews, cultural and social theory, consultation of meeting reports, and empirical observation.