Tag Archives: Ireland

Anarchy in the UK: Haddon, Home Rule and Brexit

The following is an abstract of a PowerPoint presentation that I gave at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Folklore Society.  I devised the piece in response to a call for papers that explored the relationship between  “Folklore and the Nation,” taking the format from a slideshow on photography and folklore that Haddon presented in 1895.

This presentation represented the first results of a four-year investigation of the “skull measuring business” in Ireland in the 1890s. That project was funded by the Irish Research Council and Shanahan Research Group in association with Maynooth University and the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin.

The presentation develops ideas that were first presented to the Irish Conference on Folklore and Ethnology in Belfast in  November 2018.

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Abstract

This presentation deals with ethnicity, nationalism and folklore, drawing on a forgotten anti-Imperial movement in British folklore. It begins with an anti-colonial speech delivered by Alfred Haddon in Ipswich in 1895. Haddon was aligned with the volkskunde wing of the folklore movement in Ireland and opened his speech by acknowledging nationalist efforts to disengage from political and economic union with Britain. Haddon entered anthropology through folklore, equating the destruction of native customs in subjugated territories with the loss of personal identity, ethnicity, and, ultimately, nationhood. Haddon spoke to Patrick Geddes and Havelock Ellis about reconstituting anthropology as a vehicle for radical anti-colonial activism. They were inspired by the anarchist geography of Kropotkin, the radical ethnology of Reclus, and the “Zeitgeist” of Gomme (FLS). This conference looks like the place  to remember an engagement between Irish nationalists, English folklorists and stateless anarchists /ethnologists on the brink of Ireland’s exit from union with Britain.

Folklore and nation in Britain and Ireland (forthcoming)

This presentation has been reworked for the opening chapter in an exploration  the relationship between folklore, folklife and unions in Folklore and nation in Britain and Ireland edited by Carina Hart and Matthew Cheeseman and due for publication by Routledge, Taylor and Francis in 2021.

I also developed the themes explored in this presentation as part of my docctoral research into the skull-measuring business in Ireland in the 1890s, which was incorporated as the Dublin Anthropometric Laboratory, a Eugenics facility that opened in TCD in June 1891.

At the same time however, an unlikeley confederation of utopians, anarchists and social reformers used folk-lore – they used the hyphenated version – to challenge the dominance of anatomical anthropology and the scientific-racism that underpinned much of it. That conflict is one of two main themes that I explore my thesis.

The other is Haddon’s pioneering use of photography, which, combined with a radical feminism, led to a photographic collaboration with Clara Patterson, a member of the Belfast Naturalists’ Field Club, who documented the games that children played in rural districts in County Down, Ireland.

I completed my research in June 2020 and was awarded a PhD by Maynooth University in September. The combination of anarchist-influenced social reform, folklore and photography is explored in Anarchy in the UK: Haddon and the anarchist agenda in the Anglo-Irish folklore movement in Hart and Cheeseman’s collection of essays.

I present a radical new version of the early history of organised anthropology in Ireland and the UK, which explores many of the issues thrown up by the Black Lives Matter movement and humanitarian campaigns like Tribal Voice.

My intention is simple enough: to rattle the skeletons in the anatomist’s cupboard and use this study of race in an historical context to create a scientifically robust platform to challenge racism in a contemporary context, creating an interface between academic anthropology and civil society activism by employing a range of public engagement strategies. This blog is one of those strategies.

For further information contact curator.ie@gmail.com

SEVEN SECONDS …

Portrait picture of Ciarán Walsh, www.curator.ie, which was taken during a 1 day Wet Plate Collodion workshop with Monika Fabijanczyk

Ciarán Walsh, Self portrait, Ambrotype, 2014.

What does it take to take a photograph these days? 4 billion photos a day are uploaded unto Facebook (grandparents), Snapchat (Lovers), Twitter (Networkers/chatters) and Instagram (wannabe photographers) – photographs taken in a flash and flashed over in a second.

Recently I did a workshop with Monica Zabinczyck in the Gallery of Photography in Dublin using a process that dates from the 1850s which is gaining popularity among younger photographers who want to go back into the darkroom and experience the mystery, alchemy and magic of turning silver salts black and watching an image appear out of the ether! 7 to 30 second exposures and silvery plate glass pictures to hold.

I participated in the workshop as part of his research for ‘Tríd an Lionsa/ Through the Lens‘ a six part TV documentary on photography in Ireland for `Sibéal Teo, Dingle, commissioned by TG4 with funding from the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland).

The workshop was intensive and a little challenging. Its 25 years since I had been in a darkroom but Monika took each of us through the process, calmly and efficiently.   Large format (4×5 inches) cameras were used with artificial and natural light to take portrait and still life shot varying from 7 to 50 second exposures, Some worked, some didn’t but The excitement of seeing an image develop in the darkroom was something I had forgotten about and it was a tremendous surprise on the day. The complexity of the chemical processes and, the speed required to ‘get’ the image before the plate dries or overdevelops really makes one reconsider the work done by Timothy O’Sullivan and other photographers during the American Civil War.

These photographs shows Monika Fabijanczyk demonstrating the wet collodion process during a one day workshop in the Gallery of Photography in Dublin. Ciarán Walsh / Ballymaclinton participated in the workshop as part of his research into a six part TV documentary on photography in Ireland for `Sibéal Teo, Dingle, commissioned by TG4 with funding from the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland).

Monika Fabijanczyk demonstrating the wet collodion process during a one day workshop in the Gallery of Photography in Dublin.

More on wet plate collodion Continue reading

Back on the Blog!

photograph of a Continental Typewriter taken by Ciarán Walsh / www.curator.ie to illustrate the start of scriptwring for a series on photograph commissioned by TG4 and Sibéal Teo, Dingle.

its been a while and its been erratic, the usual blog scenario. However I’m back on the blog and Ghislebertus remains the inspiration for a blog about a new era of imagining, in this case a reflection on the development of social documentary photography in Ireland between 1880 and 1900.

The impetus to blog … having something to say … comes from a commission from TG4 for a series on social documentary photography. This has just entered the pre-pre-production phase of intensive research and writing, taking apart the history of photography in Ireland – there aren’t that many histories of photography in Ireland – and coming up with a blue print for 6 narratives that reveal the unwritten / untold histories of the people through the lenses of 6 photographers who went west in the 1880s and 90s.

Typewriter adjusted

Tríd an Lionsa / Through the Lens 

The unwritten history of life in the West of Ireland, 1880-1900.

The BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) has agreed to fund a six part series for television that will look at the lives of ordinary people in the West of Ireland as seen through the lenses of six photographers

The series is being developed by www.curator.ie and  Sibéal Teo, Dingle in association with TG4. Work on the production begins in October 2014.