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Conference Bios

BIOGRAPHIES

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

PROFESSOR HAKIM ADI

Professor of the History of Africa and the African Diaspora, University of Chichester.

Professor Hakim Adi was a co-founder of the Black and Asian Studies Association, which campaigned for more inclusive histories to be represented in museums, archives, libraries, and schools; and of the Young Historians Project, which encourages young people of African and Caribbean heritage to engage with history. He was a member of the Mayor London’s Commission on African and Asian Heritage, has acted as advisor for exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum and the Museum of London, as well as for Historic England’s ‘Another England’ project. One of the few historians specialising in histories of Africans and people of African descent in Britain, his work has included media appearances, museum and archive collaborations, and three history books for children. His next book is entitled African and Caribbean People in Britain: A History (Penguin, forthcoming 2022).

 

PROFESSOR CORINNE FOWLER

Professor of Colonialism and Heritage, University of Leicester.

Professor Corinne Fowler specialises in rural Britain’s colonial connections. She directs ‘Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted', a child-led history and writing project which seeks to make historic houses' connections to the East India Company and transatlantic slavery widely known. Co-editor of the National Trust’s Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties, her recent and forthcoming books include Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural Britain's Colonial Histories (Peepal Tree Press, 2020) and The Countryside: Ten Walks Through Colonial Britain (Penguin, forthcoming 2023).

 

PROFESSOR JANE OHLMEYER

Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History (1762), Trinity College Dublin; Chair of the Irish Research Council

The founding Head of the School of Histories and Humanities, and Trinity’s first Vice-President for Global Relations, Jane’s thirteen edited and authored books include The Cambridge History of Ireland (Vol, 2, 2018). She is currently working on a book called Ireland, Empire and the Early Modern World based on her 2021 Ford Lectures. A committed advocate and public commentator on the public humanities and contemporary issues, Jane was Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute from 2015 to 2020. 

 

LYNN SCARFF

Director, National Museum of Ireland.

An expert panellist on public engagement, environmental education, and community regeneration, Lynn is a former Director and change leader at the Science Gallery Dublin, and has delivered multiple community-led programmes, including for children and young people. An advocate for the participative museum, her research focuses on museum collaborations with under-represented groups. She has authored extensively on museum and education practice and has delivered projects funded competitively by Science Foundation Ireland, the Wellcome Trust, Horizon 2020 and Creative Europe. Board memberships include the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun.

 

DR AUDREY WHITTY

Deputy Director/Head of Collections & Learning, National Museum of Ireland; Chairman, Irish Museums Association.

 

Dr Audrey Whitty is responsible for the care and interpretation of five million objects across all NMI sites; the four curatorial divisions; conservation; registration; education; photography; design and exhibitions. Previously Keeper of the Art and Industrial Division, she has project-managed and/or curated several exhibitions, including the acclaimed Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising; and A Dubliner's Collection of Asian Art: The Albert Bender Exhibition. She is a former Curator of European and Asian Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York. In 2010 she was conferred with a doctorate from Trinity College Dublin as a result of her thesis, The Albert Bender (1866-1941) Donations of Far Eastern Art to the National Museum of Ireland in the context of his Cultural Interests in Ireland and California.

 

 

CHAIRS AND SPEAKERS

DR SHAHMIMA AKHTAR (Chair, Speaker)

Lecturer in Minorities in Multi-Ethnic Britain, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Dr Shahmima Akhtar is an historian of race, migration, and empire whose work has included projects with the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s decolonising initiative and at the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool. She is interested in constructions of whiteness, and the intersections between display and the visual in identity making. Shahmima uses case studies of Ireland’s display in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Britain and the United States, to interrogate how visions of Irishness were engendered in the fairground. Considering the contested forms of knowledge production, she considers the multi-layered dimensions to being gendered, raced and classed. Shahmima is currently working on her monograph, Exhibiting Irishness: Empire, Race and Identity, 1851-1970.

KATHRYN THOMSON (Welcome)

Chief Executive, National Museums NI.

Kathryn Thomson has been Chief Executive of National Museums NI since March 2016. Prior to that she was Chief Operating Officer at Tourism NI for 11 years. Before that Kathryn worked in the senior finance team within NHS Greater Glasgow, primarily involved in business and financial planning. Kathryn holds a BCom (Hons) degree in Business Studies from the University of Edinburgh, completed her accountancy training at Price Waterhouse Coopers and has a professional qualification as a Chartered Accountant with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). In addition, Kathryn holds a public appointment as a Director of the Strategic Investment Board. She is Chair of Visit Belfast, and is on the Board of Tourism Ireland, as well as being a Director and Trustee of the Grand Opera House, Culture Perth & Kinross and Open House Festival.

DR DOMINIQUE BOUCHARD (Speaker)

Head of Learning and Interpretation, English Heritage.

Dr Dominique Bouchard leads interpretation, art commissioning, digital curatorial, learning, publishing, and national youth engagement across more than 420 historic buildings, monuments, and sites. With an Oxford University Classical Archaeology doctorate, she has led exhibitions and learning programmes in museums globally for fifteen years. An academic, curator and educator, Dominique specialises in contested histories and divided societies, including Northern Ireland and Hong Kong; and has published on curatorial practice, interpretation, and community engagement. She is a 2021 Clore Fellow and an Honorary Visiting Fellow, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

PROF. DR LAURA VAN BROEKHOVEN (Chair)

Director, Pitt Rivers Museum; Professorial Fellow, Linacre College, Oxford University.

As Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Prof. Dr Van Broekhoven works closely with Oxford University’s School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. Previously curatorial lead at the Netherlands National Museum of World Cultures, she has also lectured in archaeology, museum studies and indigenous heritage at Leiden University. Her board and panel memberships include the Women Leaders in Museums Network (WLMN) and European Ethnographic Museum Directors Group. She was a participant in the Getty’s Museum Leadership Institute, co-chair of the Oxford and Colonialism Network, and a founding member of Wayeb. 

PROFESSOR DOMINIC BRYAN (Chair, Speaker)

Professor, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast.

Professor Dominic Bryan is an anthropologist specialising in political anthropology; public ritual; public order and policing; symbolism; ethnicity; nationalism and group identity; research methods; anthropology and public policy; Irish history; Orangeism; the use of history and invention of tradition; the mass media; and social theory. His 25-year research record has been distinguished by a high level of public engagement and policy impact; with publications falling within the interdisciplinary themes of Parades and Human Rights; Flags and the Symbolic Landscape; Belfast and Shared Space; and Political Violence and Commemoration.

PAT COOKE (Speaker)

Former Director, Pearse Museum and Kilmainham Gaol.

Pat Cooke was formerly the director of the Pearse Museum and Kilmainham Gaol and worked for the Office of Public Works for over twenty years. He has written extensively on museum matters. In 2006 he became director of the MA in Cultural Policy and Arts Management at UCD, retiring in 2020. His book The Politics and Polemics of Culture in Ireland, 1800-2010 was published in 2021. 

PROFESSOR ELIZABETH CROOKE (Speaker)

Professor, Heritage and Museum Studies, School of Arts and Humanities, Ulster University.

Professor Elizabeth Crooke has published extensively on museums and heritage in Northern Ireland and Ireland and on museums, communities, and divided societies. She has been Chair of the Northern Ireland Museums Council Board, has served on the Board of Directors of the Irish Museums Association and is part of the Heritage Council’s Museum Standards Programme Advisory Committee. Recent projects include the AHRC-funded First World War Engagement Centre Living Legacies (2014-2019) and UKRI-funded ‘Museums, Crisis and Covid-19: Vitality and Vulnerabilities’.

HANNAH CROWDY (Speaker)

Head of Curatorial, National Museums NI.

A museum professional for over nineteen years, Hannah Crowdy began her career as a social history curator. In 2009, she became Interpretation Manager at National Museums NI, and in 2017 she was appointed to the role of Head of Curatorial. Her work with the organisation includes taking a leading role in ‘The Troubles and Beyond’ initiative, advising on ethical best practice and developing the curatorial research agenda. She currently sits on the ICOM UK Committee and on the Ethics Committee of the UK Museums Association.

PROFESSOR TERENCE DOOLEY (Chair)

Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates, Maynooth University.

Professor Terence Dooley has published extensively on country houses and landed estates, the Irish Land Commission, and the Irish revolutionary period. Through the Irish government commissioned report, A future for Irish Historic Houses? (2003), he highlighted the importance of public policy change, leading to the establishment of the Irish Heritage Trust in 2006. His book Burning the Big House: The Irish Country House in War and Revolution 1914-23 will be published by Yale University Press in Spring 2022. 

DR DARRAGH GANNON (Speaker)

Lecturer in Irish Studies (UCD)/O’Malley Residential Fellow (NYU).

Dr Darragh Gannon has published widely on the Irish diaspora and the Irish Revolution, including Proclaiming a Republic: Ireland, 1916 and the National Collection (Irish Academic Press, 2016), Conflict, diaspora, and empire: Irish nationalism in Great Britain, 1912-1922 (Cambridge University Press, 2022), and (with Fearghal McGarry) Ireland 1922: independence, partition, civil war (Royal Irish Academy, 2022). He is currently completing a monograph entitled Worlds of Revolution: Ireland’s ‘global moment’, 1919-1923.

DR RACHEL HAND (Speaker)

Collections Manager for Anthropology, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

Rachel Hand manages the Designated Anthropology Collection in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and continues to extensively research the ethnographic collections at the National Museum of Ireland where she was based from 2003- 2006. She has published on Irish collecting within the British Empire and early Pacific material from Trinity College, Dublin. Her book on the National Museum of Ireland’s Ethnographic Collection will be published in 2022 along with chapters for Ireland and Empire (edited by Fintan Cullen) and Collecting the West (edited by Gaye Sculthorpe, Alistair Paterson, Tiffany Shellam and Andrea Witcomb). 

DR MOBEEN HUSSAIN (Speaker)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Trinity’s Colonial Legacies Project, Trinity College Dublin.

Mobeen is an early career historian of the British Empire focusing on race, gender, and the colonial legacies of consumption, material cultures, and economic exploitation. She completed her BA and MA at the University of York before undertaking doctoral research in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral thesis historicised colourism and practices of skin-lightening and examined how bodies were racialised in colonial South Asia. Her previous work has explored courtesan culture in nineteenth-century India and identity politics of African-Caribbean women in post-war Britain. She is also interested and invested in public and oral histories as well as the practices of archive formation and collecting. 

DR ASHOK MALHOTRA (Speaker)

Senior Lecturer in History, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Ashok Malhotra’s inter-disciplinary publications include Making British Indian Fictions, 1772-1823 (2012) and articles on Asia; nineteenth-century literature; and religious history. His current project examines how research undertaken by the Indian Medical Service in British colonial India in the early twentieth century influenced discourses pertaining to nutrition and race in Britain, colonial India, and North America; and the ways in which diet has historically shaped discourses pertaining to race and class.

DR LAURA McATACKNEY (Speaker)

Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University; Docent in Contemporary Historical Archaeology, Oulu University.

Dr Laura McAtackney’s research involves exploring the material remains of political imprisonment, colonialism, and urban segregation, often through the lens of gender and/or class, in Ireland and the Caribbean. She is the PI of an Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF) Project Enduring Materialities of Colonialism: temporality, spatiality and memory on St Croix, USVI (EMoC) (2019-2024).

PROFESSOR ERIC MORIER-GENOUD (Chair)

Queen’s University Belfast.

 

 

DR ANGUS MITCHELL (Speaker)

MDU / University of Limerick.

Dr Angus Mitchell has published extensively and exhibited internationally on Roger Casement, with a focus on his work in Africa and South America. His books include The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement (1997) and Sir Roger Casement’s Heart of Darkness: The 1911 Documents (2003). In 2020 he worked with the Brazilian director, Aurélio Michiles on a documentary film Secrets from Putumayo about resource wars and the extractive rubber industry. 

DR AOIFE O’BRIEN (Speaker)

Oceania Curator, National Museums of World Culture, Sweden.

Dr Aoife O’Brien is curator for the Oceania collections at the Museum of Ethnography/ Etnografiska museet (Stockholm) and the Museum of World Culture/ Världskulturmuseet (Gothenburg), both part of the National Museums of World Culture/ Världskulturmuseerna in Sweden. Aoife received her Ph.D. in Anthropology/Art History from the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia in England where her doctoral research focused on material culture from the Solomon Islands during the early colonial period. She has held fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Her research interests include the history of collecting and collections, the contemporary resonance/relevance of museum collections, visual anthropology, cross-cultural encounters, and de-colonising methodologies.

GINA O’KELLY (Chair)

Director, Irish Museums Association.

A licentiate in Visual Culture, Gina held senior management and curatorial roles across a diverse range of cultural and contemporary art organisations before joining the IMA in 2011. She currently sits on the board of directors of Visual Artists Ireland and Encountering the Arts Ireland, and is a member of Digital Repository Ireland’s Expert Advisory Group.

DR CIARAN O’NEILL (Speaker)

Ussher Associate Professor in Nineteenth-Century History; Co-Director, Trinity’s Colonial Legacies; Deputy Director, Trinity Long Room Hub. Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Ciaran O’Neill’s research on nineteenth century Ireland includes the history of education and elites and Ireland’s relationships with empire. Currently collaborating on research projects on the Eastern Caribbean, he is also Principal Investigator of Irish Artifice: Art, Culture, and Power in Paris 1922, and of RISING, an arts and research-based Creative Ireland Climate Action collaboration.  Ciaran has held visiting fellowships in the University of São Paulo, Boston College, University of Notre Dame, and SMU Halifax, Nova Scotia.

DR MAEBH O’REGAN (Speaker)

Lecturer, National College of Art and Design.

In addition to lecturing on Visual Culture in the National College of Art and Design, Dr Maebh O’Regan has worked at the Chester Beatty and at Castletown House, County Kildare. Specialising on the life and work of Richard Thomas Moynan RHA, she has published, exhibited and made extensive films on undocumented and under-recognised Irish artists such as Mary Burke, Niall Wright, Bernie Masterson, David Browne, Judy Carroll Deeley, Christine Rooney and Chara Nagle.

PROFESSOR OLWEN PURDUE (Closing Remarks)

Professor, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast.

Olwen Purdue is Professor of Modern Social History at Queen’s University, Belfast. Her first monograph, The Big House in the North of Ireland: land, power and social elites 1870-1960, published in 2009 by UCD Press, was the first work to explore in detail the challenges to landed power in the north of Ireland. Since then, she has turned her attention to urban poverty and welfare and has edited a number of volumes on Ireland’s urban and social history. Her second monograph, Workhouse child: poverty, child welfare and the Poor Law in industrial Belfast, 1880-1918, is coming out later in 2022. Professor Purdue also works on public history, and is Director of the Centre for Public History at Queen’s University where she runs the MA in Public History.  She was historical advisor for Titanic Belfast and a member of the Academic Advisory Committee for the Ulster Museum’s Troubles and Beyond gallery. She is Director of the Irish Museums Association and a Governor of the Linen Hall Library.

DR EMMA REISZ (Speaker)

Lecturer, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics and Centre for Economic History, Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Emma Reisz is an imperial and transnational historian focused on globalisation and British presence in Asia. Emma is joint PI of the Sir Robert Hart Project, exploring the life and work of an Anglo-Irish administrator who spent forty-five years as Inspector-General of China’s Imperial Maritime Customs Service. Emma’s other main research focus is historical photography; publications include China’s Imperial Eye and New Lenses on China (both with Aglaia De Angeli). Emma holds an AHRC-Smithsonian Fellowship in Digital Heritage Scholarship, based at the National Army Museum and the Freer Sackler Museum, and is researching the war photography of Felice Beato.

DR GAYE SCULTHORPE (Speaker)

Head of Oceania, The British Museum.

Dr Gaye Sculthorpe is an Aboriginal woman from Tasmania whose research focuses on historic Aboriginal cultural collections in the United Kingdom and Ireland, working closely with communities in Australia. She is co-investigator on several Australian Research Council-funded research projects exploring these collections. Gaye curated and authored the major British Museum exhibition and catalogue, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation (2015) and co-edited Ancestors, artefact and empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish Museums (2021). Gaye’s paper is co-authored with the 'Collecting the West' project team, including Professor Alistair Paterson of University of Western Australia and Associate Professor Tiffany Shellam and Professor Andrea Witcomb of Deakin University, Melbourne. 

JENNY SIUNG (Speaker)

Head of Education, Learning and Education Department, the Chester Beatty.

Jenny Siung is a specialist in intercultural dialogue and on engagement with Islamic, Asian, East Asian, and European religious and artistic collections, she has led and co-developed collaborative learning programmes both in Ireland and internationally. An ICOM CECA Best Practice Award in Education winner (2017), she works closely with makers and museums on questions of Irish national cultural identity, on inter- and multi-faith programmes as well as creativity and critical thinking for teachers and schools. She has extensively worked with boards and foundations including EU Erasmus +, Creative Ireland, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Asia Europe Museum Network, Asia Europe Meeting Life Long Learning Hub, Heritage Council, and Dublin City Council.

SIOBHAN STEVENSON (Chair)

Director, Northern Ireland Museums Council.

With 30 years as a heritage professional, she has a diverse background in care of collections, museum and private conservation practice, cultural policy, business planning and strategic development. Formerly Head of Collections Care at National Museums Northern Ireland and Chair of the Institute of Conservation, she first returned to Belfast as Culture and Arts Manager for Belfast City Council after lecturing at Cardiff University for many years. She has her own consultancy Legacy Conservation offering advice and project management for collection care, conservation, and museum policy and practice.

PROFESSOR ANNIE TINDLEY (Speaker)

Professor of British and Irish Rural History; Head of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University.

Annie is a former Consortium Director for the AHRC Northern Bridge Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership. Her publications cover land ownership and reform and aristocratic and landed identities in Scotland, Ireland, Britain, and the empire. As founding Director of the Centre for Scotland's Land Futures, she established an interdisciplinary book series, Scotland's Land. She is co-editor of Rural History; a trustee of Northumberland’s Natural History Society and its Archives Trust; and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

PROFESSOR SHAHID VAWDA (Chair)

Archie Mafeje Chair in Critical Humanities and Director of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Cape Town.

A Queen’s University Belfast graduate and former Head of Anthropology and Social Science at the Universities of Durban-Westville and Witwatersrand, Shahid’s board and panel positions include in UNESCO cultural heritage research; the International Council of Museums committee for Archaeology and History (ICMAH); South Africa ICOM; and African Centre for Migration and Society. His publications have included on museums; colonial development; land reform and white farmers; livelihoods and traditional authorities; informal settlements; and race, religion and class. 

DR PATRICK WALSH (Speaker)

Assistant Professor in Eighteenth-Century Irish History; Co-Director, Trinity’s Colonial Legacies, Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Patrick Walsh is an historian of eighteenth-century Ireland, investigating how in comparative imperial perspective the agents of the emerging state negotiated with competing societal interests. He has published on taxation and the fiscal military state and with colleagues has produced a database of Ireland's international trade (1683-1829). Patrick is Co-I on UCD’s Irish Residential Army Barracks project Co-PI on the AHRC-IRC ‘Comparing and Combining Early Modern Irish and Scottish Land Records’. He is currently researching the history of Irish property and its connections to empire in the long eighteenth-century.

DR BRIONY WIDDIS (Speaker)

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast.

Briony is an anthropologist and former Curator of Ethnography at National Museums Scotland, Culture and Arts Manager at Belfast City Council and Assistant Director of the Northern Ireland Museums Council. She is currently an ESRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast and is delivering her research project, ‘Museums, Empire and Northern Irish Identity’ in partnership with National Museums NI, the Irish Museums Association, Northern Ireland Museums Council and Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at the University of Maynooth. She is Editor of Museum Ireland, the annual journal of the Irish Museums Association.

LUCY WRAY (Speaker)

PhD Candidate, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast.

Currently researching the Hogg collection in National Museums NI, Lucy Wray specialises in using photographic archives to investigate social and cultural histories of the north of Ireland. With experience in the British Library, she has worked in partnership with the International Dunhuang Project to make photographic collections relating to the Silk Road accessible for research, and in her work, considered challenges raised by colonial archives with visual material culture recording central Asia.

DR JONATHAN WRIGHT (Speaker)

Lecturer in History, Maynooth University.

Dr Jonathan Wright has published extensively on civic society and links with imperialism in nineteenth century Ireland. His monographs include An Ulster slave-owner in the Revolutionary Atlantic (2019) and The natural leaders and their world: politics, culture and society in Belfast, c. 1801-32 (2012). He is co-editor with Daniel Sanjiv Roberts of Ireland's Imperial Connections, 1775-1947 (2019); with Georgina Largy and Olwen Purdue of Urban spaces in nineteenth-century Ireland (2018); and with Diarmid Finnegan of Spaces of global knowledge: exhibition, encounter and exchange in an age of empire (2012).