Memory, Migration and the Monument: Commemorating the Irish Famine in Ireland and the Diaspora

Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald, School of Art History & Cultural Policy University College Dublin

Eamonn O’Doherty, Great Hunger Memorial, Westchester New York (2001). Photo Emily Mark-FitzGerald.

As the watershed event of 19th century Ireland, the Great Famine’s political and social impacts profoundly shaped modern Ireland and the nations of its diaspora, yet for nearly 150 years any sense of a public or collective ‘memory’ of the Famine period has proved elusive. What changed, then, in the mid-1990s, to occasion the remarkable outpouring of public commemoration and sentiment (described in Irish media as a ‘Famine fever’) that swept across Ireland and the nations of its diaspora during the Famine’s 150th anniversary and reversed the trope of Famine ‘silence’? This presentation will discuss the complex history of the Famine’s place in memory and representation from the 19th century to the present: why the Famine past has come to matter so much in our present, and how its commemorative visualizations reveal a conflicted struggle for ethnic self-definition within the crowded international marketplace of contemporary memory and heritage.

The lecture is presented by  the Art History Program School of Culture & Communication University of Melbourne

Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald is Lecturer in the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin. Originally from Los Angeles, Dr Mark-FitzGerald holds a BA in Art History and Spanish from the University of Southern California, an MA in Arts Administration from Indiana University and a PhD from University College Dublin. She is the recipient of major fellowships from the US-Ireland Alliance (Mitchell Scholarship), Mellon Foundation/Social Science Research Council, Humanities Institute of Ireland, Royal Hibernian Academy and Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation. Dr Mark-FitzGerald speaks regularly and publishes on the subject of public art, memory and commemoration, museology and the visual culture of migration, and contemporary Irish and international art. Active also in the Irish arts and cultural sphere, she currently sits on the executive boards of the Irish Museums Association and Irish Theatre Magazine.

Date: Wednesday 18 April 2012, 6.00 – 7.00 pm.

Venue: The Oratory, Newman College 887 Swanston Street, Parkville.

All welcome! No bookings required.