I am originally from the west of Ireland and having studied and worked in Dublin city for eight years I recently moved to the UK to undertake this doctoral research.

I completed my joint honours B.A. in History and French, and my M.Phil. in Public History and Cultural Heritage at Trinity College Dublin. My M.Phil. dissertation focused on the politics of memory and commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and digitally mapping the historical civilian deaths of the conflict. Following graduation, I worked in research and production for Century Ireland, an award-winning history website funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in association with national broadcaster RTÉ and Boston College Ireland under the auspices of the official Decade of Centenaries programme.

I am part of Work Package 3 ‘Digital heritage: the future role of heritage and archive collections in a digital world’. The sub-theme of my research is ‘Digital archives and articulating identities’ and this will be undertaken at University College London (UCL). My research will focus on the digital presence of the decade of centenaries in Ireland. It will explore the intersections between digital cultural heritage and identity, investigating digital archives, heritage websites, public commemorations and the narratives that are therein constructed, communicated, received and experienced.

The aim of the research is to investigate the intersections of digital archives and cultural heritage within the Decade of Centenaries project. The Decade of Centenaries is an official, all-island programme in the Republic of Ireland and the State of Northern Ireland from 2012-2022 that ‘aims to commemorate each step that Ireland took between 1912 and 1922 in a tolerant, inclusive and respectful way.’ ‘Decade of centenaries’ or ‘decade of commemorations’ are the terms widely used to reference the current decade during which the centenaries of the First World War, the 1916 Easter Rising, the Civil War and several other significant and often contentious Irish and international historical moments are taking place. The proliferation of digitization and digital history projects across historical events within the centenaries timeline has produced several new publically available digital archival resources and a vibrant network of history and heritage websites linked with social media.

My research seeks to investigate the role of these digital resources in debates about, and the articulation of, individual and collective identities in the public space. I wish to examine the relationship between this unprecedented public history experiment and the current debates about gender, class, and nationality in Irish society and to understand how digital archives and digital cultural heritage are interwoven with social and cultural change in Ireland. It will examine what have been the affective responses to the various centenary moments and what has been the role of social media and website design in engagement with the Decade of Centenaries cultural heritage. It will also situate this commemorative project within the wider context of European and ‘Europeanising’ heritage agendas.

I am currently researching and developing a critical methodological framework for approaching this case study as well as exploring possible tools and methods for collecting and analysing social media data from past and upcoming commemorations of the centenary period.

Useful references about my research topic:

Decade of Centenaries  http://www.decadeofcentenaries.com/

Century Ireland  http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland


Contact: hannah.smyth@ucl.ac.uk


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