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British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference, Savannah GA 2020

Thought I’d get some writing finished, considering we’re all going to be quarantined for the foreseeable! At least it’ll help the productivity!

I presented my research in February at the 29th British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies conference at the DeSoto hotel in Savannah, GA, organised by the Postcolonial Literature department at Georgia State University. The conference was presented over two days, my panel Postcolonial Ireland was on day one. A link to my presentation is here.

On day one, the first panel I attended was Postcolonial Collective Traumas which looked at collective traumas in a literary sense through the lens of post-colonialism and looking at grief as analogous to slavery. The overall arc of this panel was to show that trauma transpires from the individual to the collective and that the legacy of slavery is still embedded in the collective experience. There were a couple of authors mentioned that I definitely need to check out, among them Roger Lockhurst, Lacapra and John Peterson. My second panel on day one was Cross-cultural and Cross-Genre Approaches which looked at postcolonial literature set in and around India and the Indian experience. The third panel of day one was my one; Postcolonial Ireland. I was on this panel alongside E. Moore Quinn and Rebecca Ziegler. Moore spoke about seasonal migration from Ireland to England by women and Rebecca spoke about postcolonial perspectives of the historical Jesus. I was asked a really interesting question after my talk about the link between nostalgia and trauma, which I definitely need to do some more research into. The last panel of day one I went to was Women Confronting Empire: Nature, Bodies, Food. This panel looked at situated versus un-situated knowledge and transnational diasporas, “diaspora that destabilizes national identities” (Goya), the concept of the Americanah as Chimanda Nigozi Adhiche defined it and migratory subjectivity (Carole Boyce Davis). Identity is a political process and experience and is not formed within one specific locale. The last talk of day one was a keynote by postcolonial author and academic Robert JC Young. Young’s talk was primarily on his work on the historical roots of hybridity as it pertains to the colonised subject and the postcolonial outsider. He spoke about plural linguism, Said’s critique of the euro-centrist depiction of the east and language as a construct of the colonial project. This talk will definitely be useful for my thesis research as I am looking at hybridity in the postcolonial subject.

Day two began with a workshop on Narrative, Pedagogy and Literature. This workshop was on data analysis and using various tools for pedagogic learning and teaching. This was super useful to see the different was researchers analysed their data and to also see teaching methods in academia. The second workshop of the day was The New Imperial Neo-liberalism:Media, Policy and New Avenues in Postcolonial Research; An Interactive Workshop on Integrating New Media into Your Research. This workshop started with the participants being asked to write three sentences about what their research is, which helped me to focus down my ideas a lot. Chris Cartwright from Georgia Southern University who was giving the workshop says that postcolonial research must be accessible, multi-textual, intersectional and socially engaged; which is something I definitely agree with. New media used in research is participatory, fragmented (the same story retold) and converging. Chris used to the example of King Solomon’s Mines from 1885 to illustrate that research texts in this vein must have characters, stories (events), settings (place), themes (ideas) and aesthetics (discourses). He used a lot of literary text examples, among them Treasure Island, The Rhodes Colossus and Heart of Darkness. The last panel of the second day (and the last one I went to) was Imperial Ideologies in 20th Century British Literature. This panel looked at postcolonial themes in British literary texts and liberal humanism versus capitalist and imperialist modernity. Colonial trauma was referenced throughout the panel and Cesaire’s discourses on colonialism were mentioned by all three panelists. Carol Dell’Amico spoke about Jean Rhys and wartime ethnography in the late modernist project. She also spoke about how Greenwich Mean Time was a form of colonial oppression; how the colonised being is a divided one; the two parts of the colonised individual: desiring to be a white man and being separated from his community; how the newly liberated slaves sometimes gained psychosis and how in the colonial situation, everyone is a slave (in the Hegelian master/slave dialectic sense). She also points out that violence against the settler is the native’s work, the native is the agent of change and freedom is only achieved through capital.

All in all a very productive and fruitful three days. (Day three was spent wandering around Savannah and then Uber-ing to the airport)

 

 

 

2020 to read list

The 2018 book-list

Lauren Elkin – Flâneuse: Women Walk the City

Olivia Laing – The Lonely City

Emily Jacir – Europa

Philip Pullman – The Book of Dust

Thuc Van Nhugen – The Refugees

Sean Sexton – The Irish: A Photohistory

Langford – Basic Photography: A Primer For Professionals

Simon Baker – Performing For the Camera

Russell Roberts – William Henry Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph

Jeu De Paume – Dorethea Lange: Politics of Seeing

Various – Dali / Duchamp

Laura Blacklow – New Dimensions in Photo Processes

Niamh O’Sullivan – Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger

David Farrell  – Before, During, After, Almost

Justin Carville – Photography and Ireland

Seamus Murphy – The Republic

London Center for Book Arts – Making Books

Experimental Photography: A Handbook of Techniques

The 2019 to-be-read list  

Richard Mosse – The Castle

Iain Sinclair – London Orbital

Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race

Shirley Read and Mike Simmons – Photographers and Research: the Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice

Rebecca Solnit – The Book of Migrations

Rebecca Solnit – A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Frantz Fanon – The Wretched of the Earth

Svetlana Boym – The Future of Nostalgia

John Berger – About Looking

Patti Smith – M Train

Teju Cole – Known and Strange Things

WG Sebald – The Emigrants

Susan Sontag – On Photography

Iain Sinclair – Living With Buildings

Jacques Ranciere – The Emancipated Spectator

Clare Norton – Liberating Histories

Ian Parr – Memory

Chris Krauss – Social Practices

Gregory Sholette – Delirium and Resistance

Heather Morris – The Tattooist of Aushwitz

James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time

Joan Fontcuberta – Pandora’s Camera

Simon Baker – The Shape of Light

Hal Foster – Bad New Days

Mark Greif – Against Everything

Elif Bautmann – The Idiot

Roland Barthes – Mythologies

Julian Stallabrass – Documentary

So as you can see from the above, my 2018/19 reading was definitely not up to par! My goal for the year is to read everything I haven’t read plus the books below:

2020 to read list

Jessie Burton – The Miniaturist

Emily Rushovich – Idaho

Benedict Anderson – Imagined Communities

Jessica Andrews – Saltwater

Richard Ned Lebow – White Britain and Black Ireland

Philip Pullman – Daemon Voices

Stephanie Wrobel – The Recovery of Rose Gold

Frances Borzello – Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self Portraits

Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw – Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker

Dawoud Bey – On Photographing People and Communities

D A J McPherson and Mary Hickman (ed) – Women and Irish Diaspora Identities

My reading was definitely not up to par last year, especially as I had a much longer recovery from a surgery than I thought. This year my goal is to read everything on this list that I haven’t already. I’ll keep you posted!

On belonging

they gather

in waiting rooms and on train platforms

like migratory birds in autumn

loudly gesticulating

as

the great journey were about to begin
they embrace

when the long distance express

leaves the station without them

and weep their way

back

into cold reality

Homesickness by Ingo Cesaro, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry and Survival, Winter 1996, p. 40

Svetlana Boym defines nostalgia as a “sentiment of loss and displacement”, the nostalgia that Irish people in diaspora feel for Ireland is very much a sense of loss and longing for the homeland.

Thus, the emigrant feels the need to “preserve the cultural and moral norms of the homeland” (Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry and Survival, Winter 1996, p. 43).

Is belonging in diaspora needed? Is the fact that you “long” for the homeland mean you “belong” in a diaspora group? What is belonging? Citizenship? Comradeship?

This longing for something outside of the immediate vicinity of the immigrant in diaspora can sometimes cause life-threatening illnesses “by the tug-of-war of cultural loyalties and linguistic identities” (Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry and Survival, Winter 1996, p. 45). This manifests itself in sickness, a physical manifestation of psychological trauma.

The Irish diaspora in England have historically been very mentally unwell group. Some researchers, such as Oonagh Walsh, cite this as stemming from the famine of 1845-47. This traumatic event is definitely ingrained in the contemporary Irish consciousness, from “famine jokes” to the comment made by then-President Mary Robinson that Irish people had a ‘will to survive’ and a ‘sense of human vulnerability’. In the case of the immigrant, this ingrained trauma manifests itself in mental health issues, with Irish men and women much more likely to be admitted to hospital for mental health issues in England than any other group.

On being in diaspora

Nguyen, in The Refugees, states that “these invaders came to conquer our land and now would never go home” while speaking of Korea. The same can be said for the British occupation of Ireland. Thinking through diaspora brings up a lot of the same sentiment of “my mind trying to approximate what our lives felt like” before being in diaspora or away from the homeland.

Where is your home if you can’t go back to it?

Is it still home?

Can being in diaspora ever feel like being home?

Is this displacement a permanent feeling?

What is the notion of home referring to? Is it an abstract concept or a concrete feeling?

From now on I’ll be sharing my work in progress field-notes and writing as a way of working through some of the themes cropping up as my research progresses. I’ll be using this blog as a an online journal and visual reference to share writing and references as they come up.

MA Research and reading

So I have one semester of my research Masters in photography completed and my brain is definitely bigger than it was previously! I’m conducting research on Re-imaginig Irish Identities: Photography, Hybridity and Identity, which will involve ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and portraits of the Irish diaspora in London.

Going forward, on this blog, I’ll be documenting my process of research, field work, ethnographic notes and writing. Thus, inspired by Ellie’s blog post, here’s my 2018 / 2019 reading list. While I’m working on a review of literature for my thesis chapter, I’ll be reading widely around my topic, which is why these lists aren’t discipline-specific.

The 2018 book-list

Lauren Elkin – Flâneuse: Women Walk the City

Olivia Laing – The Lonely City

Emily Jacir – Europa

Philip Pullman – The Book of Dust

Thuc Van Nhugen – The Refugees

Sean Sexton – The Irish: A Photohistory

Langford – Basic Photography: A Primer For Professionals

Simon Baker – Performing For the Camera

Russell Roberts – William Henry Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph

Jeu De Paume – Dorethea Lange: Politics of Seeing

Various – Dali / Duchamp

Laura Blacklow – New Dimensions in Photo Processes

Niamh O’Sullivan – Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger

David Farrell  – Before, During, After, Almost

Justin Carville – Photography and Ireland

Seamus Murphy – The Republic

London Center for Book Arts – Making Books

Experimental Photography: A Handbook of Techniques

The 2019 to-be-read list  

Richard Mosse – The Castle

Iain Sinclair – London Orbital

Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race

Shirley Read and Mike Simmons – Photographers and Research: the Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice

Rebecca Solnit – The Book of Migrations

Rebecca Solnit – A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Frantz Fanon – The Wretched of the Earth

Svetlana Boym – The Future of Nostalgia

John Berger – About Looking

Patti Smith – M Train

Teju Cole – Known and Strange Things

WG Sebald – The Emigrants

Susan Sontag – On Photography

Iain Sinclair – Living With Buildings

Jacques Ranciere – The Emancipated Spectator

Clare Norton – Liberating Histories

Ian Parr – Memory

Chris Krauss – Social Practices

Gregory Sholette – Delirium and Resistance

Heather Morris – The Tattooist of Aushwitz

James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time

Joan Fontcuberta – Pandora’s Camera

Simon Baker – The Shape of Light

Hal Foster – Bad New Days

Mark Greif – Against Everything

Elif Bautmann – The Idiot

Roland Barthes – Mythologies

Julian Stallabrass – Documentary

I know these two lists are vastly different in length, while writing my MA proposal, I was reading journal articles and texts, mostly, not actual books. My goal for 2019 is to read most, if not all, of the books on my to-be-read list. There’s a lot more on my initial reading list but these are a good starting point.

From next week, I’ll be sharing my initial field notes and thoughts and processes around researching, so stay tuned!

Crafty Christmas at Hotel Elephant

The Hotel Elephant Crafty Christmas Market is happening this December from the 1st to the 3rd at Spare Street.

Thirteen artists will be a wide selection of original artworks, artist prints, illustrations, ceramics, jewellery, and photography.

I am selling prints from my work in progress series, This Is Not Just Here, This Is Everywhere as 6×4 inch mounted prints at £2 each.

Crafty Christmas 2.png

Hotel Elephant
1-5 Spare Street, SE17 3EP
Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd of December 2017
Market Open: Friday: 6pm – 9:30pm
Market Open: Saturday & Sunday 11am – 6pm

RSVP via Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/xmas-market-on-spare-street-tickets-39040495172

Updates

Well, long time no speak!

A lot of updates to go though in this post – not least that I’ve just moved back to London after being home in Dublin for six months.

July 2016: we got through the Wimbledon College of Arts degree show (big ups!)

September 2016: moved back to Dublin and tried in vain to get a job in London and in Dublin

March 2017: moved back to London, much to my delight

Also in March: put a deposit down on a studio space at Hotel Elephant in Elephant and Castle (more on that in a later post)

April 2017: turned 26 (boo!)

Also in April: invested in a studio light setup (finally!) – check my Instagram profile

Other things: photo-book dummy. Accidental Journeys is going to be an actual physical BOOK. Thanks to William and Dirty Illness. More on that – process images, sketchbook photographs, design iteration images, and printing – to come in later posts!

Project planning: I shot another roll of HP5 a couple of weeks ago and finally got it processed and printed. I’m so happy with how the images turned out. Check back soon to see it on the website. I’m also planning to have done four projects by the end of 2017, updates on these on the blog as they happen – research, process and final images.

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