UCD School of Sociology Seminar Series 2018-2019

Semester One


Thursday 20 September

Robert M. Hayden - University of Pittsburgh

'Stealing the Bosnian Census, 2013-16: The Purposeful Distortion of Pseudo precision'


The 2013 Bosnian census figures reported by the central government contain an overcount of approximately 150,000, a number greater than the population of the third-largest city in the country, and largely due to illegal registrations of non-residents in strategically important parts of the country. While EUROSTAT had devised procedures to ensure a more accurate enumeration, the leaders of the three main ethno-national polRobert Mtical communities had opposing interests in counting non-residents, illegally, as residents. Serbs wanted to use the methodology that EUROSTAT had proposed that could uncover many of the false enumerations, but Bosniak and Croat leaders wanted to drop that methodology and thus exclude data that could reveal non-residency. EUROSTAT’s experts, in a situation in which failure to agree on a data processing scheme could lead to the invalidation of the entire census, were compelled to compromise their formal standards and certify the numbers as demanded by the Bosniaks and Croats, with little verification, before the deadline to publish the census results expired, and despite their known inaccuracy. However, these central government figures are rejected by the Republika Srpska authorities, so that Bosnia has competing officialized census results derived from different methods of processing common data, with no figures accepted throughout the country – a result that EUROSTAT had wanted to prevent.
Analysis of the 2013 Bosnian census shows that like an election, a census can be stolen by manipulating how data are counted, even despite international efforts to prevent such a result. In addition, patterns of answers show that the supposedly sensitive topics of ethno-national and religious identification apparently were not so sensitive, since optional questions were answered with very high frequency and great consistency among members self-identifying as, variously, Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. Finally, the problems of the census were in part caused by the requirement that results be provided as numbers of individuals, when such precision could not be achieved. Had the census results been reported by the standards of empirical research they would have had less pseudo-precision, and thereby been more accurate, than the politicized outcome achieved by some of the Bosnian actors that EUROSTAT was forced to legitimate in order to avoid the failure of the entire census.

Bio:Robert M. Hayden is Professor of Anthropology, Law and Public & International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.  He has done research in and on the former Yugoslavia and its successor republics since 1981, on ethno-religious communalism, politics and violence; the constitutional structuring of majoritarian “democracies” in polities where there is not a single demos, among other topics.  He has recently begun a new project on the strategic rebuilding of religious sites in post-war Bosnia as a form of marking competing claims to territories within Bosnia, by the elected leaderships of the three major ethno-religious nations in the country.


Thursday 27 September

Travis Tatum - UCD

'Accusation and confession discrepancies in bullying: Dual-perspective networks and individual-level attributes'

Previous research on bullying implicitly assumes that individuals agree on who bullies whom and who gets bullied by whom. We analyze dual-perspective networks from 95 school-classes in Germany, where adolescents were asked both who they bully (confession network) and who bullies them (accusation network). The majority of accusations have no corresponding confessions, and vice versa. There are more confessions than accusations overall. Furthermore, individual attributes, including larger body size, are positively associated with involvement in bullying discrepancies. We discuss why research on negative relationships, as well as network analysis and the broad range of psycho-social disciplines which use measures of a relational nature, should account for such relational discrepancies resulting from individuals’ subjective perceptions of social behaviour.

Bio: Travis is a fourth-year Irish Research Council fellow in the Complex Systems and Computational Social Science thematic PhD programe in UCD School of Sociology. Travis uses social network analysis and other quantitative research methods to investigate the social world. Originally from California, and after completing his undergraduate studies, Travis moved to Ireland in 2013 for a Master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin in social research methods. He enjoys spending time with his friends and family, hiking, travelling the world and volunteering.


Thursday 4 October

Sara Dybris McQuaid

'Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed': Institutionalizing radical disagreement and dealing with the past in Northern Ireland'


This paper uses Oliver Ramsbotham’s (2010) notion of radical disagreement and the associated concept of agonistic dialogue, as theoretical perspectives on The Agreement (1998) in Northern Ireland. It argues that a peculiar ‘Northern Ireland model’ of dealing with a violent past has been emerging in the past 20 years. A model of fits and starts in which institutionalized conflict is both shaped by and giving shape to piecemeal interventions. Rather than the result of consistent strategy or premeditated design, the model is pluralistic, complex, at times contradictory appearing through accumulated, disparate attempts at dealing with the past.
The paper explores how Northern Ireland’s transitional status is fundamentally ambiguous: it is effectively still ‘in process’. This process is impacted by shifting political landscapes (local and national) of the past 20 years, as well as the changing norms of international peacebuilding aimed at conflict transformation and reconciliation. The paradigm clash of these terms, radical disagreement and ambiguous transition, it is argued, fundamentally shapes political developments and dialogues in Northern Ireland and not least its initiatives for dealing with the past.
The paper proceeds to reflect on dialogues between existing initiatives and policy. These dialogues increasingly also take place between ‘track 1’ and ‘track 2’, as official policy discourses and societal initiatives bump and blend in the contradictions between radical disagreement and transformative and reconciliatory discourses. Finally, I gather these points in a discussion of the Northern Ireland model, suggesting its possibilities and limitations for the promotion of reconciliation, not least in the context of Brexit.

Bio: Sara Dybris McQuaid (PhD) Associate Professor in British and Irish History, Society and Culture at Aarhus University and a core research partner in Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (Copenhagen University). My research pivots around how collectives remember, forget and archive their past, particularly as part of conflict and peace building processes. I am particularly interested in ‘multi-level memory governance’, where transnational, national and local cultural actors, processes, products and practices shape each other.


Wednesday 10 October

Payam Akhavan

'In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey'

This seminar will take place in the Moot Court (Sutherland Building) In Cooperation with the Centre for Human Rights.


A call to action for our times, Payam Akhavan's 2017 CBC Massey Lectures, In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey, is a powerful survey of some of the major human rights struggles of our times — and what we can do about it.
Renowned UN prosecutor and human rights scholar Payam Akhavan has encountered the grim realities of contemporary genocide throughout his life and career. Deceptive utopias, political cynicism, and public apathy, he says, have given rise to major human rights abuses: from the religious persecution of Iranian Bahá'ís that shaped his personal life, to the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, and the rise of the Islamic State. But he also reflects on the inspiring resilience of the human spirit, and the reality that we need each other, to set us free from ideology and go about building that better world.
A timely, essential, and passionate work of memoir and history, In Search of a Better World is a tour-de-force by an internationally renowned human rights lawyer.


Thursday 18 October

Ann Averill

'Irish Nationalism amd Globalization'


My doctoral thesis of the above title is a qualitative study, comprised of three elements. The first is a historical sociology of Irish nationalism since the eighteenth century. By means of documentary research, this element of my study outlines the development of Irish nationalism and the different manifestations it has taken in response to the altering circumstances in which it was situated. Structured chronologically, in timeframes termed ‘ideological periods’ (Watson, 2016), the historical sociology describes how Irish nationalism evolved in line with societal changes, before and after independence, and provides the background context for this study.
In this historical context, the paper examines contemporary Irish nationalism among people born between 1976 and 1986 who grew up in Ireland and are now living in two locations, Dublin and London. This age cohort grew up in a time when Ireland was practically a homogenous society, when traditional ways of living and thinking, and the Catholic Church, still dominated. It was however also a time of increasing globalisation in Ireland, for example the advent of the internet and the first wave of immigration in the mid-1990s. This research gives insights into the ways of thinking, feeling and acting among this generation, and how emotions inform their nationalism, as well as the role of inter-generational values in informing their decisions. The data demonstrate clear links between nationalism, emotions and generational change and continuity.
The second year of my PhD coincided with the 1916 commemorations in Dublin in 2016. An empirical study of the commemorations, and analysis of media narratives prior to the event, shine a light on contemporary emotional engagement with nationalism in Ireland today. This study also highlights the inter-generational continuity of two separate threads of Irish nationalism, both with roots in the nineteenth century struggles for independence, namely constitutional and physical force nationalism. According to Maleševic (2013:17), rituals of collective commemoration of revolutions “bind posterity in an ethical obligation towards those who have made the ultimate sacrifice”. However, commemorations don’t actually create nationalism (Maleševic, 2013:18). This being the case, studying the turnout, demographic and behaviour of attendees at this event allows insights into the nature and intensity of contemporary Irish nationalism.

Bio: Ann Averill was awarded an MSocSc from University College Dublin in 2014. She commenced her PhD in 2014 at UCD School of Sociology. She submitted her doctoral thesis titled Irish Nationalism and Globalisation: a Study of the Generation Born between 1976 and 1986 in June, and currently awaits her Viva.


Thursday 8 November

Milena Tsvetkova

'The Emergence of Inequality in Social Groups'


From small communities to entire nations and society at large, inequality in wealth, social status, and power is one of the most pervasive and tenacious features of the social world. What causes inequality to emerge and persist? In this talk, I will present recent and current research that investigates how the structure and rules of our interactions can increase inequality in social groups. In a recent meta-analytic study, we looked into the effects of four structural conditions – network structure, network fluidity, reputation tracking, and punishment institutions – on the distribution of earnings in network cooperation games. We analyzed 33 experiments comprising 96 experimental conditions altogether and found that there is more inequality in clustered networks compared to random networks, in fixed networks compared to randomly rewired and strategically updated networks, and in groups with punishment institutions compared to groups without. Inequality emerges under these conditions because fixed networks allow exploitation of the poor by the wealthy and clustered networks foster segregation between the poor and the wealthy, while the burden of costly punishment falls onto the poor, leaving them poorer. In current work, we are developing large-scalegamified online experiments to study how competition, group identity, and visibility of heterogeneity could further increase inequality in cooperative environments. Overall, our research relates to strategies and interventions to decrease inequality and mitigate its negative impact, particularly in the context of mid- and large-sized organizations and online communities.

Bio: Milena Tsvetkova is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Methodology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She completed her PhD in Sociology at Cornell University in 2015. Prior to joining LSE, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher in Computational Social Science at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.Milena’s research interests lie in the fields of computational and experimental social science. She employs online experiments, network analysis, and agent-based models to study fundamental social phenomena such as cooperation, contagion, segregation, and inequality. Currently, she is collaborating with computer scientists to combine gamification and citizen science and develop new methods for large-scale network experiments online.


Thursday 15 November

Dr. Rolando Vazquez Melken

'Towards a Decolonial Path'

This seminar will take place at Comhlámh, 12 Parliament St Dublin, 1pm. In partnership with Comhlámh and Proudly Made In Africa


Decoloniality has increasingly become a fashion in the academia. In many fields decoloniality is been used as a trendy word as a simple substitution of the word critique or deconstruction. It is very often used as a neologism for the postcolonial. In this conversation I would like to talk about what is specific of the decolonial. In particular I would like to share an understanding of the decolonial not as an academic expertise but as an ethics and a politics that is committed to the question of global justice.

Bio: Rolando Vázquez is associate professor of Sociology at University College Roosevelt and affiliated researcher at the Gender Studies Department and at the Research institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) of the Faculty of Humanities, University of Utrecht. He coordinates the Middelburg Decolonial Summer School together with Walter Mignolo for the last nine Years. He has been engaged with the movement of Decolonial Aesthesis. He curated the workshop: 'Staging the End of the Contemporary' for MaerzMusik at the Berliner Festspiele in 2017. He co-authored the report of the Diversity Commission of the University of Amsterdam in 2016. Through his work he seeks to develop practices of thinking and learning that transgress the dominant frameworks of contemporaneity, heteronormativity and coloniality. His research on the question of precedence and relational temporalities seeks to overcome the western critique of modernity and contribute to the ongoing efforts to decolonize knowledge, aesthetics and subjectivity.


Thursday 22 November

Manuela Boatca

'Caribbean Europe. Exercises in Unlearning Borders'


Drawing on the notion of “multiple Europes” developed elsewhere, the paper refers to the EU’s overseas territories as “forgotten Europe” in order to reveal the coloniality of geopolitical knowledge that actively produces them as absent from and unthinkable within EU discourse. The paper subsequently focuses on Europe’s remaining colonial possessions in the Caribbean and their corresponding geographical referent, Caribbean Europe, in order to argue that the unthinkable concept as well as reality of Caribbean Europe fundamentally challenges established understandings of Europe, a white European identity and the European Union.

Bio: Manuela Boatcă is Professor of Sociology with a focus on macrosociology and Head of School of the Global Studies Programme at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany. Her work on world-systems analysis, postcolonial and decolonial perspectives, gender in modernity/coloniality and the geopolitics of knowledge in Eastern Europe and Latin America has appeared in the Journal of World-Systems Research, Cultural Studies, South Atlantic Quarterly, Political Power and Social Theory, Berliner Journal für Soziologie, Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie, Zeitschrift für Weltgeschichte, Theory, Culture and Society, and Current Sociology. She is author of Global Inequalities beyond Occidentalism, Ashgate 2015 and co-editor (with E. Gutiérrez Rodríguez and S. Costa) of Decolonizing European Sociology. Transdisciplinary Approaches, Ashgate 2010 and of the Current Sociology monograph issue Dynamics of Inequalities in a Global Perspective (with V. Bashi Treitler), 2016.


Thursday 29 November

Jeremy Jennings

'Travels with Tocqueville and Beaumont'


In the literature on Alexis de Tocqueville, one argument has persisted since he published the first volume of Democracy in America in 1835: namely, Tocqueville (and therefore by extension, Gustave de Beaumont) was an unobservant traveller who failed to see what was all around him in America (and also in the other countries he visited). I want to dispute this charge by showing that Tocqueville was quite astonishingly observant as a traveller and that the arguments he developed in his written works were to a remarkable extent informed by his travels. The same applies to Gustave de Beaumont, who accompanied Tocqueville on most of the former’s major journeys. I will do this by referring extensively to their notebooks and letters. In doing this I will be guided by my audience at UCD. I am happy to talk about their journey to America but can just as easily talk about their travels across England and Ireland in the late 1830s.

Bio: Jeremy Jennings is Professor of Political Theory and Head of the School of Politics and Economics at King’s College London. He was formerly Vincent Wright Professor at the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques. He has published extensively on French political thought and the role of intellectuals in France since the eighteenth century. This includes Revolution and the Republic (OUP: 2011) and (with Aurelian Criautu) Tocqueville on America after 1840 (CUP: 2009). He is presently trying to complete a volume entitled Travels with Tocqueville for Harvard UP.


The Humanities Institute,  UCD School of Sociology and the Memory Studies Association

Dates: 6-7 February 2019
Venue: UCD Humanities Institute, University College Dublin, Ireland
Deadline for abstract submission: 15 September 2018
Notification of outcomes: 15 November 2018
Organisers: Human Rights and Memory Working Group (Memory Studies Association) and UCD Humanities Institute and the School of Sociology
Keynote speaker: Carol Kidron, Anthropology Department, Haifa University

Call for Papers - Human Rights and Memory Workshop


Register here and stay informed about upcoming events.