Who Were the Monks? Contextualising Participation in Medieval Irish Ecclesiastical Communities within Current Conceptions of Human Mobility

Elise Alonzi, Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, is giving the opening lecture of the opening lecture for the Newman Centre for the Study of Religions Online Public Lecture Series on 29 September at 4 pm via Zoom. Her talk is entitled: Who Were the Monks? Contextualising Participation in Medieval Irish Ecclesiastical Communities within Current Conceptions of Human Mobility. Please see the eventbrite link to sign up to attend the event

Abstract

Rates of mobility of those buried at medieval Irish monasteries appear to be low in comparison to other contexts in the ancient and modern world. Biogeochemical analyses of human remains indicate that about 14% of monks and lay people buried at medieval Irish ecclesiastical sites were non-locals, in comparison to the about 30% non-locals estimated for ancient Rome. As of 2019, 25-30% of residents of Australia and Canada are foreign-born. The figure is about 15% for Germany, the USA, and UK. In contrast, 0.07% of Chinese residents are reported to be foreign-born. Is the figure of 14% non-locals to be expected, or does this mean that medieval Irish monasteries were unusually exclusionary, as we understand our species? Were restrictive laws or codified fosterage practices at play? This talk will address the possible identities of medieval Irish individuals and question our understandings of the anthropological meanings of these categories.

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