Seminar Series 2017/2018


Seminar Series Semester Two

Speaker: Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh (NUIG)

Title: 'Time and Emotion: The Hunger Strike as Protest Tactic'

Thursday 15 February,1PM. D418, Newman Building


The hunger strike is a widely used and frequently successful protest tactic employed by activists across the political spectrum in widely varying political contexts, in authoritarian regimes as well as liberal democracies. Despite this there is very little sustained analysis of this protest tactic and we have little understanding of why it is chosen, why it frequently succeeds and why it sometimes fails. This paper analyses the political dynamics of the 1981 hunger strike by Irish Republican prisoners in which ten men died, focusing on temporal dimensions of negotiations aimed at ending the protests. Contrary to the existing literature on hunger strikes which strongly emphasises culture, tradition and emotion, this paper argues that the hunger strike is closely connected to the logics of modernity.

The paper challenges the widespread assumption that a hunger strike exerts power primarily through exerting moral pressure on the more powerful actor by demonstrating a willingness to suffer. It argues instead that power derives above all from the temporal concentration of forces that its deadline-setting aspect helps to generate.The hunger strike provides a way for weak actors to set a deadline when dealing with complex bureaucracies that derive much of their power from deferral and delay. The paper focuses especially on the way in which bargaining power and bargaining moves are intensely concentrated in the final hours. It examines the intertwined temporalities of three crucial aspects of the negotiation process: information, communication and biological processes. The paper argues that this analytical approach can be deployed in the analysis of the relationship between time and power in many other forms of protest and suggests a number of avenues for further inquiry into the temporal dimensions of protest.

Speaker: Professor Lev Luis Grinberg (Ben Gurion University)

Title: 'The Dynamics of Political Spaces in Israel/Palestine: Past, Present and Future'

Thursday 22 February,1PM. D418, Newman Building


The Israeli/Palestinian political arena is a very peculiar case combination of settler colonialism, military rule and democratic procedures within one territorial unit. The Jewish State succeeds to maintain its internal democratic procedures despite the military rule of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and the discrimination of Palestinian citizens within its sovereign recognized borders. In this lecture I'll summarize various research projects on the Zionist colonization during the British Mandate Period, the failure of the peace process (1992-2007), and the prospects of models of power sharing in the future. The theoretical approach is based on eventful sociology and historical path dependence, combined with my own theory of dynamic political spaces. 

Speaker: Professor Seán Ó Riain, NUIM

Title: 'The Informational Workplace in Europe's Capitalisms: The Social Politivs of Work in Denmark and Ireland'

Thursday 8 March ,1PM. D418, Newman Building


Denmark and Ireland represent two paths to the post-industrial economy. As small open economies with a history of smallholder agricultural economies, who joined the EU at the same time, they share significant similarities. However, despite various ‘hybrid’ features, they broadly represent Social Democratic and Liberal pathways to postindustrialism. This talk explores the social organisation and political negotiation of work in the two countries as a critical feature shaping these pathways.
The first part of the talk reviews Denmark and Ireland’s economic development, particularly discussing the implications of important differences in enterprise (domestic manufacturing vs foreign investment); industrial relations (with important differences in their forms of social partnership); and the welfare state (examining how universal provisions intersect with occupational and pay-related benefits). It then examines the significant differences in how technology, learning and autonomy at work, and workplace pressure intersect in the two countries.
The second part of the talk then analyses the organisation of software work in each country, focusing on how the transnational ‘script’ of the ‘Silicon Valley start up’ is implemented differently, particularly around the definition of innovation and the negotiation of deadlines. While significant differences exist between the countries, their institutional foundations are fragile and the informational economy contains various possible futures in each country.

Speaker: Professor Omer Bartov, Brown University

Title: 'Anatomy of a Genocide: The Origins and Everyday Realities of Local Mass Murder'

Wednesday 28th March ,4.30PM. K114, Newman Building

Jointly hosted with the UCD School of History


For more than four hundred years, the Eastern European border town of Buczacz—today part of Ukraine—was home to a highly diverse citizenry. It was here that Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews all lived side by side in relative harmony. Then came World War II, and three years later the entire Jewish population had been murdered by German and Ukrainian police, while Ukrainian nationalists eradicated Polish residents. In his talk, Omer Bartov will explain how ethnic cleansing doesn’t occur as is so often portrayed in popular history, with the quick ascent of a vitriolic political leader and the unleashing of military might. It begins in seeming peace, slowly and often unnoticed, the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities. The perpetrators aren’t just sociopathic soldiers. They are neighbors and friends and family. They are human beings, proud and angry and scared. They are also middle-aged men who come from elsewhere, often with their wives and children and parents, and settle into a life of bourgeois comfort peppered with bouts of mass murder: an island of normality floating on an ocean of blood.


Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University. He is the author of Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz, along with several other well-respected scholarly works on the Holocaust and genocide, including Germany’s War and the Holocaust: Disputed Histories and Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine. He has written for The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and The New York Times Book Review. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Speaker: Mayte Martin (UCD)

Title: 'Familiar Strangers: Narratives and Representations of Romanies in Ireland'

Thursday 5th April ,1PM. D418, Newman Building


The portrayal of Romanies as ‘different’ and incompatible with non-Romani ways of life has often dominated the understandings of Romanies since they arrived in Ireland at the end of 1990s.  A look at European past discourses about Romanies shows that the language of today is anchored in old representations, narratives and myths about the ‘Gypsy’. These discourses have travelled across European borders for decades to become the ‘truth’ about Romanies. They have been deployed and re-activated in multiple contexts becoming a structure of prejudice underpinned by binaries where Romanies often represent the opposite to the perceived standards of non-Romani society. Repeated and reproduced frequently over a long period of time, these discourses have acquired a sense of authenticity particularly resilient to change. Whether portrayed as nomadic beggars or as child kidnappers, Romanies appear as the outsiders guilty of violating the norms and values of society. Today many non-Romanies have never had an encounter with any Romani. Yet they ‘know’ them and have already made up their minds about who ‘all’ Romanies are and what their ‘problem’ is. In other words, their labelling has contributed to their deligitimisation and social position playing an important role in antigypsyism.  


Speaker: Professor Andreas Wimmer (Columbia University)

Title: 'Nation building. Why some countries come together while others fall apart'

Thursday 26 April ,1PM. D418, Newman Building


In this talk, Columbia sociologist and political scientist Andreas Wimmer offers new answers to an age-old question. Why is national integration achieved in some diverse countries, while others are destabilized by political inequality between ethnic groups, contentious politics, or even separatism and ethnic war? Traversing centuries and continents from early nineteenth-century Europe and Asia to contemporary Africa, Andreas Wimmer delves into the slow-moving historical forces that encourage political alliances to stretch across ethnic divides and build national unity.


Andreas Wimmer is Lieber Professor of Sociology and Political Philosophy and a member of the Committee on Global Thought. His research brings a long term and globally comparative perspective to the questions of how states are built and nations formed, how individuals draw ethnic and racial boundaries between themselves and others, and which kinds of political conflicts and war results from these processes. Using new methods and data, he continues the old search for historical patterns that repeat across contexts and times. He has pursued this agenda across the disciplinary fields of sociology, political science, and social anthropology and through various styles of inquiry: field research in Oaxaca (Mexico) and Iraq, comparative historical analysis, quantitative cross-national research, network studies, formal modeling, the analysis of large-scale survey data, as well as policy oriented research. His most recent book publications are Nation Building. Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apart. Princeton University Press (2018), Waves of War. Nationalism, State-Formation, and Ethnic Exclusion in the Modern World (CUP 2012) and Ethnic Boundary Making. Institutions, Networks, Power (OUP 2012).


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