Category Archives: Events in Dublin

Escaping the ivory tower: academics and the city

By Niamh Cullen Last Wednesday I attended the inaugural event of a new group of Dublin based humanities scholars, Dublintellectual. The idea behind Dublintellectual – bringing the research of Irish based scholars and researchers to a wider public – is … Continue reading

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Humanities research… what’s the point?

By Niamh Cullen Last Friday the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences celebrated the 10th anniversary of its foundation. The council, as many postgraduate and postdoc readers will know, has been of enormous benefit to Irish universities, … Continue reading

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Their lives in dresses

The scene I saw in front of me as I walked into the room looked like the dressing room of an actress or eccentric ‘society lady’ from the 1950s; both intimate and luxurious at the same time. A rail of vintage dresses on one side, mannequins modelling more elegant pieces on the other, a video screen disguised as a mirror with a gaudy, brass frame and an old-fashioned full-length lamp; this is the set of My Life in Dresses, a piece of theatre by Sorcha Kenny dedicated to dresses and the stories they can tell. The performance is only part of a much larger project whereby Sorcha, inspired by her own love of dresses and convinced of their importance in people’s lives, collected stories from men and women of all ages across Ireland, about dresses which held a particular significance for them. Continue reading

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Baarìa: A Microcosm of Sicilian history

By Niamh Cullen A mother and her daughter pacing the floor of their tiny home, starving: ‘But it doesn’t matter that we haven’t eaten in a week, as long as the neighbours don’t notice’; a crowded, lively cinema audience who … Continue reading

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Bricks, Books and Paper: How to build a city

If there’s anywhere you shouldn’t be too surprised to see a biography of Marx peeping out of a Louis Vuitton handbag – in place of the usual Chihuahua – it’s at Overlapping, an exhibition of Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa, currently showing at the IMMA in Dublin. Garaicoa’s work is a series of sculptures and exhibitions; originally trained as an engineer, his work reflects this sense of geometric precision, and much of it is concerned with architecture and the urban environment. His inspiration is the crumbling, fascinating, sprawling landscape of his native Havana, where the architectural legacy of colonialism blends with the more recent rubble of half finished houses and shoddy new blocks built in a hurry. Might sound a little familiar to anyone living in Dublin right now… Continue reading

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Knowledge Economy or the Economising of Knowledge: The Meaning of Education

Third level education is a contentious subject in Ireland these days; it seems that just as more and more people flock to gain access to it, there is less money to pay for it. However, urgent as the struggle to balance the budget is, there are in reality much more fundamental issues at stake in Irish education. The number of students attending university has risen dramatically in the last few decades, from 11% in 1955, to more than half the population in 2003. Expressions like ‘the knowledge economy’ are worn out from use in media debates, and everyone seems to be convinced that education is the key to lifting Ireland out of recession in the long term. However, when we talk about the kind of education we wish Irish universities to focus on, opinions begin to diverge. Recent articles in the Irish Times by Tom Garvin and Salter Sterling show how this debate is at the forefront of the public consciousness; however the questions of what should be taught and what kind of research projects should be done in universities, as well as how these should be financed, managed and justified, are ones of global import. In her address to the Royal Irish Academy on Wednesday evening, Harvard university president Drew Gilpin Faust made an eloquent and impassioned contribution to this debate. Continue reading

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Laying down the Challenge: Public Intellectuals and our Time

In a recent invited lecture at UCD, the distinguished German political philosopher Jurgen Habermas was asked how he would define the role of public intellectuals. The difference between an expert – academic, scientist, policy adviser and so on – and an intellectual, he replied, was that an expert gave counsel only when asked , while an intellectual will speak out wherever there is a need, and not only when invited to do so. The bearer of uncomfortable truths, the intellectual often looks beyond the narrow confines of his or her discipline, making connections, drawing observations and providing insights into some of the wider issues that affect contemporary life; governance, society, memory, community. Continue reading

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