Philosophical Perspectives on Contemporary Ireland

University College Dublin
March 8-9, 2018

Keynote Speakers

Professor Luke Gibbons, Maynooth University
Professor Richard Kearney, Boston College
Professor Kathleen Lennon, University of Hull 

Conference Theme

The social, political and economic landscape of contemporary Ireland has inspired extensive scholarly debate both within and well beyond the interdisciplinary field of Irish Studies. National and international academic research has struggled to stay apace with a rapidly transforming demographic where shockwaves of economic meltdown and institutional abuse have intensified a long legacy of identity and diasporic politics. Remarkable about this scholarly work, however, is its distinct lack of a self-consciously philosophical voice. While scholars from literary studies to law have engaged comprehensively with the complexities of a post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, scholars from philosophy have for the most part neglected to intervene. Acknowledging the important exceptions to this broader disciplinary tendency, this conference addresses this prominent scholarly lacuna by bringing contemporary Ireland on to the philosophical stage. Our aim is to enrich the fields of philosophy and Irish Studies by encouraging a manifestly philosophical exploration of contemporary issues and concerns.

In development of this project we seek to acknowledge the rare but nonetheless exemplary existing work already published in this area. Scholarship by thinkers working both inside and outside of philosophy departments - notably by Richard Kearney (Boston College), Attracta Ingram and Iseult Honohan (University College Dublin) - constitutes early philosophical analysis of Irish themes that can fruitfully inform theorisations of the present. Indeed, it is precisely the pressing nature of contemporary issues in Ireland that has prompted even more recent philosophical interest in the Irish context, notably in feminist philosophy and philosophy of education. In these contexts, revelations of institutional abuse, national responses to trauma, and the ambivalent relationship to the Irish language have been acknowledged as significant issues necessitating philosophical attention.

Invited Abstracts

We invite abstracts that either engage with pioneering philosophical work on Ireland, or develop entirely novel philosophical approaches to the below (without being limited to these):

  • Diaspora, exile, return
  • Women’s bodies, women’s rights
  • Institutionalisation and containment
  • North-South dynamics
  • Conflict, violence, resolution
  • The Home, housing, and homelessness
  • Economic boom and bust, social class, and the welfare state
  • Political systems and governance
  • Education, schooling, and curricula
  • Nationalism, patriotism, and cosmopolitanism
  • Citizenship and belonging
  • Race, ethnicity, and identity
  • Art, culture, and the socio-political
  • Ethics, religion, and the secular
  • Hiberno-English and/or the Irish language
  • The relationship between philosophy and Irish Studies in the contemporary context

We welcome papers from a variety of expert areas, including Education, Gender Studies, Politics, Sociology, Cultural Studies, and History. Submission should, however, explicitly constitute and explicitly engage philosophical treatments of contemporary Ireland.

Conference Organisers

Dr. Clara Fischer & Dr. Áine Mahon, University College Dublin

This conference is a joint initiative from UCD School of Education and UCD School of Philosophy.

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to and by October 15th 2017. Decisions will be communicated by October 30th 2017.

Panel proposals will also be considered. Please submit individual paper abstracts (200 words) for 3-4 speakers, in addition to a general abstract (700 words) describing the panel theme, its relation to the conference topic, and how individual papers speak to each other as part of the panel.