Exploring the protestant/
The last of the three social categories that I identify as particularly important to Belfast children in the course of their everyday lives is related to the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland. It was sectarian divisions that I thought, prior to beginning my fieldwork, I would be spending most of my time dealing with on the school playgrounds. Contrary to those expectations, I found the kids at all schools far more involved in exploring differences based on age or gender categories. Aside from the occasional sectarian epithet, like “Orangie” or “Fenian,” little was made of the Protestant/Catholic divide in the everyday play practices that I could observe at school. 1 Jane Hubbard (1995a, b) also noted a lack of sectarian folklore on the playgrounds she visited during her fieldwork in Derry, and suggested that school principals might not allow or encourage “political” material in the schools, “perhaps hoping that their school might be seen as a healthy alternative to, or even a safe haven from, the world outside” (1995a, 242). She further suggested that when sectarian lore does show up on the playground, it is as an intrusion, rather than as an intrinsic part of the playground tradition (242).
My field experiences taught me that the lack of sectarian lore on the playground makes sense, especially for the schools that are situated within homogenous neighborhoods;the children are surrounded by people who are all from the same “side,” so conflict along those lines is not regularly